Rains Batter South India, Kerala Worst Hit With 28 Deaths
Ernakulam: Villagers wade across a waterlogged street following incessant rainfall in flood-hit area of Ernakulam district of Kerala. (PTI) 

Rains Batter South India, Kerala Worst Hit With 28 Deaths


Rains continued to hammer South India Friday, with Kerala being the worst-hit. The region has reported 45 deaths over the past three days, as rail and air services were hit and authorities scrambled to rescue people from low-lying and submerged areas.

People in several districts of Kerala, particularly Wayanad and Malappuram, continued to face the wrath of the rains with landslips and floods leaving 28 people dead in rain-related incidents over the past three days and cutting-off several low-lying regions.

A total of 738 relief camps have been opened across the State with over 64,000 people displaced from their houses by the floods and rains being shifted there. At least 40 people are feared to have been trapped under debris in landslips that shook the worst affected districts of Wayanad and Malappuram, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

The government has sought the assistance of the Indian Air Force, he said. The Met department has issued a red alert in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod Districts of the state for Friday and in Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur for August 10. Kavalapara near Nilambur in Malappuram District suffered heavy loss with nearly 40 houses being washed away due to a massive landslide, officials said.

Several people are feared missing from the hilly region. "We have retrieved three bodies from the area. Since the whole area was washed out, we were unable to ascertain the actual loss," a district revenue official told PTI. Vijayan said in Kavalapara, at least 17 families had shifted to relief camps after being alerted about the danger of landslide by the authorities.

However, some families had refused to move away from their homes and the 'worst' is feared, he said. A year after Kerala was ravaged by the deadliest monsoon that led to the worst deluge in the state's history in a century,it was again at the receiving end of nature's fury, prompting government to seek the help of Army and Air Force. Vijayan, who reviewed the situation, said 28 people had lost their lives in the last three days and seven are missing.

Over 80,000 flood-affected people were evacuated in Karnataka, as neighbouring Tamil Nadu asked the IAF to be on stand by to be deployed for rescue activities in rain-hit Nilgiris district where five people have died.

The flood situation in Karnataka worsened on Friday with no let up in rains as the authorities battled to reach out to the needy in the State, where the toll went up to 12. Twelve people have died in rain-related incidents so far, chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who has camped in flood-ravaged north Karnataka, told reporters at Bagalkot. Yediyurappa also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those killed due to flood and rain related incidents in the state.

In New Delhi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who represents the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat from Kerala, spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the floods and sought aid. "...The PM has assured to provide any assistance required to mitigate effects of the disaster," he tweeted from his Wayanad MP twitter handle. Rescue and relief operations were on in full swing in Kerala with the involvement of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Police, the Fireforce and forest department. Vijayan said the state government has allotted Rs 22.5 crore for immediate assistance in flood-hit areas.

Sreekandapuram in Kannur and adjacent areas have been submerged.The Parassinikadavu shrine in Kannur district has been inundated with people being rescued in country-boats. Vijayan said at most places, water level has gone higher than the floods of last year. Rail, road and air transport took a hit with several trains being cancelled and the Cochin International Airport shut till Aug. 11 due to water logging. All flights have been diverted to the state capital Thiruvanathapuram for the next two days.

Educational institutions remained shut.

In Kochi, the Southern Naval Command said it was ready to open its airport for operation of small commercial flights if CIAL airport remained shut for a longer period.

The government has suspended the iconic Snake Boat Race which was scheduled to be held in Alappuzha on Friday in the wake of heavy rain. Last year also, the race was suspended due to floods then, that claimed over 400 lives and caused extensive damage.

Examinations of the Kerala Public Service Commission and various universities across the state, scheduled for Saturday, have been postponed, officials said. In Karnataka,four members of a family died in a landslip in Kodagu district on Friday following incessant rains. Rescue teams comprising personnel from Fire and Emergency Department, State Disaster Response Force, National Disaster Response Force and Army have evacuated 1,24,291 people, an official statement said on Friday.

Floods and rains have left a trail of destruction in vast areas of north,coastal and Malnad districts of the state.

Yediyurappa said he was in constant touch with the Centre and Modi, Home minister Amit Shah and Defence minister Rajnath Singh have been briefed on rescue and relief efforts.

In Tamil Nadu, rains continued to pound Nilgiris and Coimbatore districts.

The toll in rain-related incidents in the hilly Nilgiris district rose to five on Friday. A woman and her daughter died when the wall of their house collapsed while bodies of of two women estate workers were recovered from a blocked drain at Kuruthukuli Friday. A 65-year-old man had died in a wall collapse on Thursday Avalanche —a major tourist destination in the district —recorded 911 mm rainfall in the 24-hour period ending 8.30 am on Friday, the weather department said.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami announced a relief of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the victims.

Further, 1704 people affected due to floods and landslips have been lodged in 28 relief centres. In Andhra Pradesh, 31 members belonging to the fishing community, including 12 women, who were trapped in the raging Godavari river at Polavaram were rescued by the Navy.

A Navy helicopter,which was deployed from Visakhapatnam for rescue operation, airlifted the stranded fisherfolk to Dowaleswaram in two sorties, State Disaster Management Authority said.

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