Cochin: The death toll in the Kerala rains touched 26 on Friday morning after heavy downpour caused havoc in the state leading to a series of landslips in the hilly district of Idukki and northern parts.
Large-scale damage has also been reported from various parts of the state.
Sources in the State Disaster Control Room said 26 people have died in rain-related incidents since Wednesday with 17 of them being killed in landslides in Idukki and Malappuram districts alone, reported news agency PTI.
More than 10,000 people have been shifted to 157 relief camps across the state in the last two days, the government said.
In an unprecedented development, shutters of 24 dams in different parts of the state have been opened.
Six flood rescue teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Wayanad, Kozhikode, and Palakkad to carry out Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) work, said the Home Ministry in a statement. A 24×7 NDRF control room has been set up in Delhi to closely monitor the situation.
The Army has deployed three columns comprising about 75 personnel each in flood-hit areas of Kerala including Ayannkulu, Idukki and Wayanad. Two more columns have been requisitioned and are moving to Kozhikode and Malappuram. Three Engineer Task Force are expected to assist in the operations.
Describing the situation as “very grim”, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that rescue operations have been intensified.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took stock of the situation and offered all necessary assistance to the state.
“Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the situation arising due to floods in various parts of the state. Offered all possible assistance to those affected. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Kerala in the wake of this calamity,” he tweeted.
All educational institutions including professional colleges at Kothamangalam, Kunnathunad, Aluva, Paravur Taluk, and Kadamakkudy will be closed on Friday.
The Kerala State Disaster Management (KSDM) Authority has issued an advisory in light of the possibility of water release from Idukki Reservoir via Cheruthoni Dam Shutters. Asking people to stop panicking and spreading fake messages, the KSDM advised citizens against travelling to Vazhathopp, Mariyapuram, Kanjikkuzhi, Vathikudy and Konnathadi panchayaths of Idukki. It further warned people against crossing the rivers after water is released from dams and to avoid crowding small bridges and river banks.
The Kerala state electricity board has already issued the third red alert in Idukki reservoir.
The dam will be opened on Friday morning to maintain the water level.
Earlier, in the first time in 26 years, the administration was compelled to open the sluice gates of Cheruthoni dam on Idukki reservoir. The incessant rains caused rivers in the region to swell, urging the authorities to open the shutters of as many as 24 dams.
Heavy rains for the past two days and release of water from the Idamalayar dam resulted into localised flooding in low-lying areas in the northern districts of Kerala. The flood water also triggered landslides at some places.
Flight and train services were affected in the state, following heavy downpour and flood in Ernakulam district. The Cochin International Airport shut down its arrival operations on Thursday as a precautionary measure.