At least nine people died and dozens of others missing as heavy rains pounded south and central Kerala causing flash floods and landslides in many parts, prompting the state government to seek the assistance of the defence forces for rescue operations.
State ministers K Rajan, Roshy Augustine and VN Vasavan participated in a review meeting to assess the situation arising due to heavy rains in the state, at Mundakkayam in Kottayam this morning, reported news agency ANI.
In view of the red alert for rainfall and possible flooding and waterlogging in several districts of Kerala, a total of 11 teams of the National Disaster Relief Teams (NDRF) have been deployed to the state in coordination with the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA).
A total of 33 people including eight women and seven children have been rescued so far, according to the NDRF.
Early this morning a team of the NDRF conducted rescue operation in Kokkayar, Idukki where a landslide occurred yesterday. Rescue operations were also conducted in and around Ernakulam district and in Vaipur, RanniTaluk in Pathanamthitta district.
According to the Met department there will be isolated heavy rain in parts of the state over the next 24 hours starting October 17.
The India Meterological Department today said that the low-pressure area over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Kerala has become less marked and there is a possibility of light to moderate rainfall at many places with only isolated heavy rainfall over the state during next 24 hours and further decrease thereafter.
In one of the heavy rains in recent years, the high ranges of central and south Kerala are experiencing almost similar to that of the situation the state faced during the time of devastating floods of 2018 and 2019 but authorities said everything was under control and there was no need for any panic.
Several people have been injured and displaced in rain-related incidents in the southern state where dams in many districts are nearing its full capacity and small towns and villages in the hilly areas are totally cut off from the outside world.
Kerala Revenue Minister K Rajan on Saturday reached Kottayam district of Kerala to take stock of the situation arising due to heavy rains.
"Army and Indian Air Force are on stand-by for assistance. We will provide all help to those in need," Kerala Minister K Rajan told news agency ANI.
Meanwhile, an NDRF team conducted a rescue operation in Kokkayar, Idukki where a landslide occurred yesterday.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday held a high-level meeting to intensify the rescue efforts and said that all means will be used to evacuate people stranded in areas flooded due to heavy rains in the state, including Kottayam.
In a statement, the Chief Minister said all government agencies have been directed to take necessary steps to rescue people from the affected regions and evacuate those living in areas prone to landslides and floods. Vijayan also directed the district collectors to open relief camps to relocate the affected people. He said the camps should function strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocol.
In the wake of the warning that the rains would continue till October 19, the meeting also decided not to allow pilgrims to trek to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, situated in a dense forest in Pathanamthitta district, till October 18. The temple was opened at 5pm today for 'Thula masam' poojas. Higher educational institutions, which were scheduled to open on October 18, will start on October 20.
Even after the monsoon is almost over, heavy rainfall has been lashing the central and southern districts of the state on Saturday. Rivers are in spate in many parts of the State, overflowing their banks and flooding low-lying regions.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)
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