Kerala rains: 4 dead, 3 missing; red alert sounded in many districts

Thiruvananthapuram: Four people have died and three, including two fishermen from Tamil Nadu, are still missing as rains continued to lash Kerala, with red alert being sounded in Kasargod, Idukki, Kozhikode and Kannur districts till July 23.

The body of Sahayaraju (55), one of the missing fishermen from Tamil Nadu, was found in Kollam district. Two other fishermen had managed to swim to safety, the coastal police said.

The search is on for the remaining two missing fishermen. A Coast Guard ship and two boats of Marine Enforcement are searching for them," a coastal police official told PTI.

The body of Manesh Sebastian, who went missing in the Meenachil river of Kottayam district, was retrieved by the Navy.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued red alert in Kasargod and Idukki districts on July 21, and Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur districts on July 22.

It has also predicted extremely heavy rainfall in Kannur and Kasargod districts of the southern state on July 23. The weatherman has also issued orange alert in Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram till July 25.

Even though the intensity of rains has reduced, coastal areas of the state continue to bore the brunt of the rough sea. The Thiruvananthapuram district administration has opened six relief camps and moved 143 families there from the coastal areas.

"A total of 603 people are in the relief camps. Food and other necessary items are being provided," District Collector K Gopalakrishnan said in a release. Authorities have declared holiday to the Vettukadu St Mary's LP school, where the relief camp is functioning.

The Kannur district administration has declared holiday for all educational institutions including professional colleges on Monday, in the wake of red alert issued by the IMD.

In Kottayam district, holiday has been declared for most educational institutions tomorrow.

The St Thomas School at Thirumoolapuram near Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district, which is functioning as a relief camp has also been asked to declare holiday tomorrow.

The Kerala government has asked tourists to stay away from Shankumugham Beach in state capital Thiruvananthapuram, citing danger. The IMD has also cautioned fishermen from venturing into the sea.

According to sources of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), hundreds of houses from coastal areas of the state have been evacuated In the hilly Idukki district, a minor landslide occurred Saturday morning at Konnathady village, causing crop loss.

There were no casualties, official sources said, adding people have been advised against travelling to hilly areas. Koshy Varghese (53) drowned after slipping into the Manimala river at Thiruvalla while fishing.

Dileep Kumar (54) from Kollam died when a coconut tree fell on him on Friday, Kerala State Disaster Management sources said. A man who had gone to bathe at Fort Kochi beach is also missing.

A total of 12 relief camps have been opened for those living in low-lying areas and whose homes have been flooded. According to SDMA, 13 houses have been fully damaged so far and 71 partially in the state.

"As of now, we have opened two relief camps in Kasargod. Nearly 15 persons have been shifted there. There are many others who have opted to move to their relatives," a disaster management official from Kasargod said.

The Central Water Commission website said water in Periyar, Pamba and Chaliyar rivers in the state is rising.

In the northernmost Kasaragod district where red alert has been issued, the maximum rainfall recorded was 9 cm, whereas certain places in Kannur received 9.7 cm rain.

The Kariangode river is in spate and has changed its course, flooding 50 houses in the vicinity. People have been shifted to relief camps, sources said.

According to reports, the Madananthesswara Sidhi Vinayaka temple at Madhur has been flooded. In a huge relief, four fishers who had gone missing after putting out to sea from nearby Vizhinjam on Wednesday, returned safely Saturday.

Their boat had developed a technical fault and was drifting about 28 nautical miles from the shore. The fishermen, who were left without food, have been shifted to a hospital.

The families of the missing fishermen had been staging protests at Vizhinjam beach area since Friday demanding immediate action to trace their kin. In Arratupuzha, relief camps have been opened to accommodate the families, who were shifted there after sea water entered their houses.

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