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Rains Wreck Havoc In Kerala With 35 Casualties, Yellow Alert In 11 Districts

It was a nightmare for the residents of Kerala as incessant rain for almost a week brought back a similar situation to the 2018 floods that were termed as the worst in almost a century with 483 casualties. Rains that intensified in the state on Friday have triggered massive landslides taking the death toll to 35 with many still to be found.

Torrential rains were caused by two low-pressure areas – one over the Arabian Sea adjacent to Lakshwadeep while the other was formed over the Bay of Bengal that triggered the beginning of the northeast monsoon. Concerned over the collective low-pressure areas triggering floods, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has already issued warnings to fishermen against venturing to the sea and issued orange and yellow alerts that indicate the very high intensity of rainfall; for central and southern Kerala districts. Warnings were also issued over rising water levels in many dams and evacuations began.

The Scenario in Kerala today

More bodies have been recovered from under the debris at Koottickal in Kottayam district and Kokkayar in neighbouring Idukki district. This has been considered as the worst hit up till now. Additionally, there have been deaths by drowning in Kozhikode, Thrissur and Palakkad districts. Although the rain subsided on Monday, the IMD has forecast more rain from October 20th to 22nd. A yellow alert has been issued by the IMD for almost entire Kerala, especially in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode.

The relief teams of the Indian Navy and Air Force as been deployed and other organizations have started rescue operations and supplying relief materials. However, challenges owing to the unstopping rains that have caused damages to both roads and property and low visibility conditions are causing delays. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has been in close contact with the state government of Kerala, and CM Pinarayi Vijayan has stated that 84 camps are set up across the state. A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been deployed in each district Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram. In addition, five more teams have been directed to be deployed in Idukki, Kottayam, Kollam, Kannur and Palakkad districts.

An equally concerning issue at hand has been the opening of dam gates. A red alert has been issued in respect of 10 dams in Kerala, including Sholayar, Pamba, Kakki and Idamalayar. Due to rising water levels in various dams because of heavy rains in the eastern hilly regions of the state. The Kerala government had earlier issued alerts to the public that shutters of certain dams will be raised, resulting in an increase in water levels of rivers in the south and central Kerala. Two shutters of the Kakki dam were opened – State Revenue Minister K Rajan informed today. Preparations have been made to evacuate or shift people living along the banks of the Pampa river and the low-lying areas of Cherickal, Poozhikadu, Mudiyoorkonam and Kurambala regions near Pandalam, along the banks of Achankovil river, have been flooded too. Also, an orange alert has been issued for the Idukki dam reservoir by the Dam Safety Authority of the state, while a blue alert has been issued for Idamalayar reservoir in Ernakulam district. 

Meanwhile, the state government has appointed ADGP Vijay Sakhare as the nodal officer to coordinate with the rescue and relief operations. The colleges and schools slated to open throughout the state have been pushed back to October 25th in light of recent conditions. The pilgrimage to Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala has been put on hold in view of the expected worsening of the weather. The shrine had been opened on October 16 for the Thula Masam poojas. The government stated that it would be difficult to safely rescue everyone if water levels in the nearby Pampa river were to rise further due to the heavy rains predicted from October 20. 

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