Tuesday, 7 December, 2021

Kerala flood toll hits 35

Kerala flood toll hits 35

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The rain-battered Kerala is bracing for another spell of rain. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has sounded a yellow alert across 11 districts from Wednesday even as the death toll from flash flood and landslides in the state rose to 35, reports Hindustan Times.

The yellow alert indicates severely bad weather that could change for the worse and cause disruptions in the day-to-day activities. It was issued as water levels rose sharply in many reservoirs due to heavy rains in catchment areas. A red alert was issued to 10 dams in the state and shutters of Kakki dam in Pathanamthitta were opened.

Pilgrimage to hill temple of Sabarimala was suspended due to a rise in water level in Pambba and other rivers, said state minister K Rajan. Rajan added after opening the gates of Kakki dam, water level in Pambha river will go up by at least 15 cm and pilgrimage in the prevailing situation was not advisable. Many pilgrims, who arrived Kottayam and Pathanamthitta from neighbouring states, were sent back.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired an emergency meeting on Monday to review the situation and constituted an expert committee to regulate release of water from some of the dams.

The expert panel includes weather experts, hydrologists, structural engineers and climatologists.

It will monitor water levels in all dams. “We are closely monitoring the situation,” Vijayan said.

The water-level in Idukki reservoir, Asia’s biggest arch dam, rose on Monday and prompted an orange alert. Idukki Member of Parliament Dean Kuriakose has asked the government to open some of its gates.

The IMD said the state is likely to receive fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy downpour for three to four days starting Wednesday. The government has opened more relief camps and advised people not to return to their damaged homes.

The state received heavy rainfall on Friday and Saturday, which triggered flash floods and landslides in Kottayam and Idukki districts. A rescue operation was on in one of the worst-hit areas--Kokkayar in Idukki district--for two missing people. A rescue team retrieved the body of a three-year-old child from debris there on Monday. Among eight dead in Kokkayar, five were children. In Kottayam district, the toll from rain-related mishaps rose to 14.

Opposition leader V D Satheesan, who visited landslide-affected areas, said the relief operation was delayed and warning was not conveyed properly. “In some of the affected areas, rescue teams reached a day after the mishap. Despite strong warning, how did it happen? We need an answer from the government,” he said.

Rajan maintained there was no delay on the part of the government.