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Kerala reels under floods as dams release water


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29 die n 54,000 homeless  n 55 stranded tourists rescued

Idukki :  The flood situation in Kerala worsened on Friday as all the five gates of the Idukki hydel project were opened and shutters of over two dozen dams were lifted, inundating various parts of the state which reeled under the unprecedented downpour in decades.

The floods have claimed 29 lives so far. Army was deployed in the worst-affected districts of Idukki, Erankulam, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur and thousands of people were evacuated to safe places along the banks of the rivers as rain alert has been sounded in many districts till Monday.

While one shutter of the Cheruthoni dam of the Idukki hydel project was opened on Thursday, two more were lifted on Friday morning and another by the afternoon as the water level reached 2,400 feet against its full capacity of 2,403 feet.

The gates of the Cheruthoni dam have been opened after 26 years. With all the five floodgates of the Idukki dam opened, water is rushing down the Periyar river causing huge loss to crops and properties.

The worst affected is the Cheruthoni town, located close to the dam. The situation worsened with the shutters of the Idamalayar dam also being opened adding to the swelling of the river.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is closely monitoring the situation after cancelling all his engagements.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who will be visiting the state to the worst-affected areas on Sunday, talked to Vijayan on  telephone. Both took stock of the situation as the Centre assured the state of all possible assistance.

Around 200 families who live on the sides of the river have already been evacuated to safety as a matter of abundant caution.

The army is already involved in rescue-relief and damage control exercises in several districts in the state.  Nine columns of personnel have been deployed in rescue and rehabilitation work and reaching food to the needy.

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