Kerala on Friday got some relief due to lesser showers than the state has been getting for over the last two days. However, the death toll rose to 27. With the water level at the Idukki dam fast rising, two more shutters of the dam were also opened, said a Kerala Minister.
The Army has been undertaking rescue operations and damage control exercises in Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. The minister said the shutters were only opened for a few hours to release the pressure and there was no reason for panic.
Several districts in the state have been receiving heavy rains since Wednesday. Till Thursday, 24 people had died, while three more deaths were reported on Friday. This monsoon fury is unprecedented in recent history.
Kerala Power Minister MM Mani, who hails from Idukki, said that the decision to open two more shutters of the Idamalayar dam was taken to prevent the water level from reaching its full strength of 2,403 metres.
At 12.30 pm on Thursday, the water level crossed 2,399 metres, and one of the shutters was opened after a gap of 26 years.
"Despite that opening, there has been a steady inflow and currently the water level in the dam stands at 2,401 metres. Hence the decision to release more water was taken.
He, however, pointed out that there could be problem at some places in Ernakulam and its nearby areas, as the water released from the Idamalayar dam could reach these places. "But we are confident that things can be controlled.”
State Revenue Minister E Chandrasekheran, who is camping in Ernakulam and coordinating the activities, said things were under control as the five teams of the Army were taking part in the damage control exercises in Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram.
"The central team is also here to assess the damages that were caused by the rains in July. Now that they are witness to the current situation—widespread destruction of crops and property, we are hopeful that they will be able to speed up their reports," said Chandrasekheran.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a review meeting with top officials and lauded the defence forces for their help.
Shutters of at least 24 reservoirs, including Idukki Dam, were opened, flooding several parts of the state. With the non-stop rains, water levels continued to rise in Idukki and Edamalayar dams in central Kerala. As many as 8,000 people have been shifted to relief camps in the worst-affected districts of Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram, reports The Indian Express.
The Kochi international airport partially suspended its operations for three hours after water level in a tributary of Periyar, flowing near the runway, rose alarmingly. Several low-lying areas of Aluva, which is in the vicinity of the airport, have flooded.
A team of the Army's Military Engineering Group is set to arrive at Kozhikode and Ernakulam, officials said, adding that some Army officers from Kannur had already reached the flooded Wayanad.
The worst affected districts include Idukki, Malappuram, Palghat, Kozhikode, Wayanad and parts of Kannur.
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 pm.
A home ministry statement said 22 persons died in overnight rains and landslides on August 8-9. Idukki alone accounted for 11 deaths.
Two Class 12 students who ventured out for fishing in the flooded waters near Kochi were also swept away. Their bodies were found, officials said.
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force have left Chennai for Kerala. An inter-ministerial Central team is visiting the flood-ravaged area and Army support is also being mobilised from Bengaluru
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force have left Chennai for Kerala. An inter-ministerial Central team is visiting the flood-ravaged area and Army support is also being mobilised from Bengaluru, the statement said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said rains have caused extensive damage to life and property across the state. "The Centre has agreed to extend all help," he said.
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 MM 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 pm, 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 ago, 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 PH Kurien to lead the rescue and relief operations.
Karnataka is rushing Rs 10 crore worth relief materials to flood-hit Kerala following heavy monsoon rains.
"Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy directed state Chief Secretary TM Vijaya Bhaskar to rush relief materials and a team of doctors to Kerala, reeling under heavy rains and flash floods," said the statement.
On Kerala's request, the state government has also agreed to release 75,000 cusecs of water from Kabini reservoir in Mysuru districts to tackle the flash floods caused by excessive backwaters across the border in Kerala.
As one of the tributaries, Kabini originates in the Waynad district and flows eastward to join the Cauvery river at T Narasipura in Karnataka.
"Kumaraswamy also called on his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the flood situation in that state. He also offered more relief material and aid to the affected people across the state," added the statement.
With IANS inputs
*This is a developing story, more updates will follow