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Kerala battered by rain again, govt cancels Onam celebrations

In Idukki, vehicular traffic was banned in several areas, while heavy rains in catchment areas led to all five shutters of Idukki dam being opened again on Monday evening. Sluice gates of Malampuzha dam in Palakkad, Pambh dam in Pathanamthitta and Edamalyar in Idukki were also opened.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2018 19:50 IST
Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala floods,rain,landslide
High speed winds lashed many coastal areas. In Palakkad and Wayanad, many people who left relief camps returned after weather conditions deteriorated again.(AFP)

Torrential rains continued to wreak havoc in many parts of flood-ravaged Kerala on Tuesday and several areas of the worst-affected Idukki and Wayanad districts were cut off again after landslides and flash floods, even as the weather forecast warns that rainy conditions will prevail for three more days.

“It is the worst calamity after the 1924 deluge. At least 443 villages in the state were declared flood-hit. Initial loss is pegged at Rs 8, 316 crore and the amount will go up once we get a clear picture,” said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan after a cabinet meeting where it was also decided to set up a cabinet sub-committee to oversee relief operations.

The government has also decided to axe the week-long Onam celebrations in view of the disaster.

Vijayan said most rivers in the state were in spate and 27 dams were opened to release excess water for the first time. Lauding the timely help of the central government, he also urged it to rush a fresh team to assess the damage inflicted by two spells of floods.

The state government has stepped up its efforts to mobilise financial assistance to meet the disaster.

“We are getting enough support from many quarters ranging from cine actors to kids’ piggy banks. We have to reconstruct large areas from scratch,” the chief minister said.

In Idukki, vehicular traffic was banned in several areas, while heavy rains in catchment areas led to all five shutters of Idukki dam being opened again on Monday evening. Similarly, sluice gates of Malampuzha dam in Palakkad, Pambh dam in Pathanamthitta and Edamalyar in Idukki were opened to release excess water from reservoirs.

A senior revenue official said that the situation inIdukki and Wayanad districts were “really grave”.

To add to the state government’s mounting worries, high speed winds also lashed many coastal areas. In Palakkad and Wayanad, many people who left relief camps returned after weather conditions deteriorated again.

In Pathanamthitta district, pilgrims were stopped from proceeding to the hilltop shrine of Sabarimala after the base camp Pambha was submerged, revenue officials said.

Kannur, Palakkad and Kozhikkode districts in north Kerala also received heavy rainfall.

In Kannur, a video of a small-time blanket seller, hailing from Madhaya Pradesh, donating his entire stock to a relief camp has gone viral. Vishnu Kachav has turned into a hero and his photo found place on the chief minister’s social media wall as well.

Amid looming crisis, many young bureaucrats and rescue officials turned role models. In Wayanad, pictures of state food safety commissioner MG Rajamanickam and deputy collector NS Umesh helping to unload relief materials have also become popular.

Thanks to heavy deployment of forces and planning, casualties was restricted to an extent. Army, navy, air force and national disaster response force personnel were deployed in many areas and helping the local administration to restore infrastructure.

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 19:33 IST