At least six people have died and a dozen were missing on Saturday as heavy rains fell in southern and central Kerala, causing flash floods and landslides in many areas, prompting the government of the State to request the assistance of the defense forces for the rescue operations.
Several people have been injured and displaced in rain-related incidents in southern state, where dams in many districts are approaching full capacity and small towns and villages in hilly areas are completely cut off from the outside world.
Many hilly areas of Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta are experiencing an almost similar situation to what the state faced in the devastating floods of 2018 and 2019, but authorities said everything was under control and not there was no need to panic.
However, rescue teams from the state police and firefighters were unable to reach the affected areas due to flooding and poor weather conditions there.
“The situation is serious,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. He said, however, that the latest weather forecast indicates the situation is not going to get worse.
Officials said members of the military, air force and navy were on their way to Koottickal and Peruvanthanam – the two hilly villages falling within the districts of Kottayam and Idukki respectively – where a river overflowing swept through homes, displacing and isolating many people.
State Cooperation Minister VN Vasavan, who reached the vicinity of these landslide-affected villages, said the bodies of two dead women and a child were found while a search was underway. course to recover the body of a man who also lost his life in the incident.
He said at least 12 people are missing in these villages. In another rain-related incident, a man and a woman, both aged 30, died as their car was washed away by flood waters in Kanjar, Idukki district, police said. Their bodies have been found, they said.
According to a defense spokesperson, Mi-17 and Sarang Helicopters are already in standby mode to meet requirements, but they have not been able to start operations because the weather in Kottayam is still bad.
Air Force assets are still in Sulur on standby, she said. “All Southern Air Command bases have been placed on high alert due to the weather situation in Kerala,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“The Indian military has already deployed military personnel to areas affected by the floods. A column made up of an officer, 2 JCOs and 30 other ranks of army personnel has already moved to Kanjirappally, Kottayam district from the Pangode military station… ”she said.
The Indian Navy’s Southern Naval Command has said it is fully prepared to assist the local administration in the rescue operations. “Dive and rescue teams are ready for deployment in the short term. Standby helicopters will be launched once the weather is right for flight operations,” he said in a tweet.
Earlier, the Minister of Cooperation and Registration, VN Vasavan, said at least three houses had been swept away in Kottayam district and some people feared they might go missing.
“At least four landslides have been reported in various parts of Kottayam district. We have requested assistance from the air force to rescue those stranded in the Koottickal area. missing people and more than 60 waiting to be rescued as water entered their homes, ”the minister told PTI.
According to the latest update from the Indian Meteorological Department, a “red alert” has been triggered for six districts: Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur and Palakkad districts. Kottayam and Pathanamthitta are the worst affected districts at present due to heavy rains since Friday evening.
Visuals have emerged on social media from various parts of Kottayam District, including a KSRTC bus stuck in flood waters and locals rescuing passengers from it. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a high-level meeting in the evening to review the rains situation and decided to step up rescue operations in all affected areas.
In a statement, the chief minister said all government agencies have been urged to take the necessary steps to rescue people from affected areas and evacuate those living in areas prone to landslides and floods. Vijayan also called on district collectors to open relief camps to relocate those affected.
He said the camps should operate in strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocol. Following the warning that the rains would continue until October 19, the meeting also decided not to allow pilgrims to visit the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, located in a dense forest in the Pathanamthitta district, until ‘to October 18. The temple was opened at 5:00 PM today for ‘Thula masam’ poojas.
Higher education institutions, which were slated to open on October 18, will begin on October 20, the statement said. Calling on residents of the state to remain vigilant over the next 24 hours, the CM said in a Facebook post that the rains have already hit the southern and central districts and will intensify in the southern districts. also north in the evening, depending on the weather forecast.
The water level of some rivers is expected to rise and the shutters of some dams should open, he said, adding that those who live in his watersheds should be prepared to follow instructions from authorities.
The CM also said that a red alert had been triggered for dams under KSEB, including the Kakki dam in Pathanamthitta, Sholayar in Thrissur, Kundala and Kallarkutti in Idukki. Meanwhile, two children miraculously escaped after part of the wall of their house collapsed in relentless rains on Friday night in Chempakamangalam in the capital district where the rains hit the city and areas. rural areas since last night.
The wall collapsed onto the bed, where the children slept, but they escaped with minor injuries, family sources said. Government officials have advised people against visiting tourist spots and approaching rivers and other bodies of water due to heavy rains in Thiruvananthapuram.
Destruction of roads was reported in many places, especially in Kollam and Kottayam districts, while severe congestion made life miserable in the Kuttanad region, known as the ‘rice bowl’ of the state in the districts of Alappuzha and Kottayam. The Thrissur District Administration has urged people living in lowlands and other disaster-prone areas and on river banks to move to safer places.
Fishing boats were banned from venturing out to sea, they added. A red alert was also issued for the Chulliyar dam in Palakkad and the Peechi dam in Thrissur, which fall under the irrigation department. Revenue Minister K Rajan said the necessary precautions had been taken. “We have asked the district collectors to issue warnings to people residing along the banks of the river,” Rajan said.