Kerala Floods: At Least 25 Dead, Several Missing After Heavy Rain Triggers Landslides

Kottayam district reported 14 deaths and Idukki district eight. A child also drowned in Kozhikode.

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New Delhi: Twenty-five people have died and several more are feared missing in Kerala after torrential rain lashed the southern and central parts of the state on Saturday and Sunday.

Kottayam district reported 14 deaths and Idukki district eight. A child also drowned in Kozhikode, News18 reported.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan asked people of the state to exercise extreme caution while leaving the house.

The Army, NDRF, police and the Fire Force along with the locals began rescue operations on Sunday morning at Koottickal and Kokkayar panchayats. A total of 33 people, including eight women and seven children, have been rescued so far, according to the National Disaster Response Force.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a yellow alert for heavy rain in 11 districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode.

On Saturday evening, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a meeting to review the situation. He promised that the government would put in every bit of effort to rescue those who have been stranded. The CM also said that a 105 relief camps have been set up, and that arrangement to set up more have been kickstarted.

He added that according to the Central Water Commission, water levels are rising in the Madamon, Kalluppara, Thumpaman, Pullakayar, Manikkal, Vellaikadavu and Aruvipuram dams, located in the districts of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram.

The Sabarimala pilgrimage has also been suspended till Tuesday due to the rains.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly spoke to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the matter. “Spoke to Kerala CM Shri @vijayanpinarayi and discussed the situation in the wake of heavy rains and landslides in Kerala. Authorities are working on the ground to assist the injured and affected. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” Modi said in a tweet.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday that the government is continuously monitoring the situation in Kerala.

Homeless in moments

An elderly woman could be seen running from one person to another screaming through the rain swept roads in this high range hamlet, located at the foothills of Western Ghats mountain ranges, on Sunday morning.

“I have lost everything…everything in my life…where should I go?…who will give me a shelter?” the woman, clad in a tattered saree, asked aloud crying and running here and there.

The unexpected torrential rain, which pounded the village on Saturday, washed away every penny of her life time earnings and made her homeless all of a sudden.

“I begged our Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sir to give me two cents of land to construct a ‘koora‘ (hut). I have nowhere to go. My daughters’ houses are also submerged. Now I am going to the church to see whether I will get a place there,” she told the journalists gathered at the place.

When the extreme rains showed a slight dip this morning, a large number of people in this village could be seen as displaced and became the inmates of rehabilitation campus.

Many elderly villagers said it was for the first time in their decades-old life that they were seeing and experiencing such severe rainfall.

A local shop owner here pointed to his new car, which can be seen as destroyed and partially hanging with its back wheels stuck on a broken wall in his house compound.

“It was my new car parked in front of the house. I was not at home when the flood water suddenly gushed inside the house compound Saturday afternoon. My wife and children some how managed to run to the neighbour’s house,” the middle aged man said.

He turned a bit emotional showing the ‘mundu‘ (dhoti) which he was wearing, saying that it was borrowed from the neighbour. Only life was saved and everything else was lost, he said adding that not even in the 2018 floods had he faced such a terrible situation.

The situation was not different in Kokkayar, a hilly hamlet in Idukki district as well, which also witnessed a series of landslips and human casualty on Saturday in incessant rains.

A shocked Rajamma, a woman villager, was yet to believe that a four-member family including children, who was seen engaged in some construction activities near her home on the foothills of hill, swept away by flood waters in front of her eyes.

The elderly woman said she advised the family to move away from the place when water was seen coming down from the hill tops in a small scale.

“But, they continued their work. Suddenly a portion of the hill, where they were standing, caved in… huge boulders started rolling down accompanied by a massive flood of water… I do not remember anything else,” the teary-eyed woman said.

George, a middle-aged man engaged in rescue operations, said it was everything fine and calm in the village till 11 PM on Saturday.

“But, the situation worsened after that. Around 10 big bridges and the same number of wooden bridges were washed away and the village became isolated soon,” he added.

(With inputs from PTI)