Torrential rains, landslides cause nightmare in Kerala

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Aug 14 (PTI): Torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslides ravaged Kerala, where 39 lives had been lost so far.

Unabating rains forced the government to do away with the official ‘Onam’ celebrations and the amount set apart for the purpose would be utilised for relief operations, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here on Tuesday.

State Governor P Sathasivam also decided to cancel the reception to be hosted by him on Wednesday as part of Independence Day celebrations due to floods in the state.

Since Tuesday morning, various parts of Kerala, especially the two hilly districts of Wayanad and Idukki, which were tourist destinations, were lashed by heavy rains.

The picturesque Munnar town in Idukki district was almost totally cut off and traffic was disrupted after two shutters of the Mattupetti dam were opened as the water level rose.

While the water level at the Idukki reservoir came down, the rising level at the Mullaperiyar dam, which touched 136.10 feet against its maximum level of 142 feet, was still a matter of concern, official sources said.

An alert was sounded, asking people to remain cautious, they said.

A series of landslides were reported in Kurichya and Makki hills and the Thamarassery ghat road in Wayanad.

Heavy rains were also lashing the northern Kerala districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur and Palakkad.

Ottapalam in Palakkad received the highest rainfall of 13 cm on Tuesday, followed by Munnar (Idukki) 12 cm and various places in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Waynad received 10 cm each, the weather office said.

According to authorities, over 215 landslides were reported in the rain battered state, where 444 villages were declared flood hit by the state government.

At least 20,000 houses were fully destroyed in the deluge and about 30,000 persons had taken shelter in relief camps.

The rains and landslides had destroyed 10,000 km of roads in the state, Vijayan said.

The chief minister also requested government and PSU employees to donate two days’ salary for the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Huge trees were seen washed away in a river at Kottiyoor in Kannur, where a landslide was reported in Chappamala hills.

Low-lying areas of Nilambur in Malappuram were inundated and roads were flooded in many places, causing severe traffic snarls.

Rainwater also gushed on to national highways in many parts of the district.

Ayyappa devotees were asked not to visit the hill shrine at Sabarimala as the rain-fed Pampa river rose menacingly.

As per the preliminary estimate, Kerala suffered a loss of Rs 8,316 crore in the heavy rains, which were lashing the state since August 8.

Weatherman warned of heavy rains in some places in the state till August 18. Fishermen were warned against putting out to sea.

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