At least 24 have been killed in incessant rainfall and flooding in Kerala, following which teams of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force were rushed to assist in relief and rescue operations in the southern state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the state, and offered all possible assistance to those affected.
“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,” the PM said in a tweet.
An inter-ministerial team of the central government is also visiting the flood-affected areas in Kerala, while Army troops are being mobilised from Bengaluru for deployment in the rain-battered southern state.
With water levels rising in various dams and reaching almost their maximum capacity, shutters of at least 22 reservoirs in Kerala have been opened to drain out excess water.
Heavy rains for the past two days and release of water from the Idamalayar dam on Wednesday, resulted into localised flooding in low-lying areas in the northern districts of Kerala. The flood water also triggered landslides at some places.
The worst affected districts include Idukki, Malappuram, Palghat, Kozhikode, Wayanad and parts of Kannur. Idukki alone accounted for 11 deaths.
Following the opening of the Idamalayar dam gates, the flood water from the Periyar river entered the Cochin International Airport compound, forcing the authorities to temporarily shut operations in the afternoon. The airport reopened after the water receded at 3 p.m.
Since more rains are forecast, as a matter of abundant caution, it has been decided to postpone the upcoming Nehru boat race on the Punnamada lake, he said.
“We call upon all to donate to the Chief Minister’s Fund,” Vijayan said.
Power Minister M.M. Mani, who is from Idukki, said the situation in the district was “pretty bad”.
“The shutters of the Idamalyar dam were opened. We will open a shutter of the Idukki dam also,” he said.
The capacity of the Idukki dam is 2,403 meters. At 12.30 p.m., when the water level crossed 2,399 meters after a gap of 26 years, one shutter of the dam was opened.
“At the moment everything is under control,” said Idukki legislator Roshy Augustine.
The Malampuzha dam, which was opened a few days, sent out waters which have created havoc in certain areas of Palghat, which borders Tamil Nadu.
Water has entered houses in many low-lying areas of the district.
Earlier, Vijayan held an emergency meeting and appointed senior official P.H. Kurien to lead the rescue and relief operations.