Heavy rains pounding Kerala triggered a series of landslides in the hilly Idukki district and northern parts, killing 26 people since Wednesday night with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Thursday describing the situation as ‘very grim.’
The army and National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in affected areas in Idukki, Kozhikode, Waynad and Malappuram districts to assist the civil administration in the rescue operations, officials said.
State Disaster Control Room sources said 26 people have died in rain-related incidents since Wednesday with 17 of them being killed in landslides in Idukki and Malapuram districts. With several rivers in spate following the incessant rains, as many as 24 dams in different parts of the state have been opened in an ‘unprecedented’ development. A red alert has been sounded ahead of the impending release of water from the Idukki Reservoir, the largest arch dam in Asia.
More than 10,000 people have been shifted to 157 relief camps across the state in the last two days, the government said. It has asked tourists not to go to high range areas and dam sites in the state.
The incessant rains also disrupted landing operations at the international airport in Kochi for nearly two hours in view of the possible inundation in the airport area following a rising water level in the Periyar river, flowing nearby. The arrival operations were resumed from 3.05 pm Thursday evening, a spokesperson of the airport said.
The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), which maintains the Idukki dam, issued the red alert saying the shutters of the reservoir would be opened at 6 am on Friday and asked people living downstream to be “extremely vigilant.”
Talking to reporters here after a review meeting, the Chief Minister said the flood situation was “very grim” and it was for the first time in the history of the state that 24 dams have been opened at a time following the water level reaching their respective maximum.
“Twenty four dams have been opened so far which is unprecedented and is telling of the seriousness of the situation. People living in downstream areas of these dams must be cautious,” a tweet by the Chief Minister’s Office said later.