Kerala floods: Waters rise, panic recedes

Rains, landslides kill 24, displace thousands in India's Kerala state

For the first time in 40 years, all 5 gates of Idduki Dam in Kerala have been opened, which clearly depicts the situation emerged in the state following heavy rains.

With rivers and streams flowing in spate, people, particularly youngsters, have been asked to exercise caution.

Currently, Monsoon surge is active over the state of Kerala as a cyclonic circulation is seen over Southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Lakshadweep area in the mid-levels.

Five columns of Army were deployed in the state.

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Earlier, a defence spokesperson said the Navy had put SNC on alert in view of the rising water level in Periyar river in Kerala and possible inundation of parts of Wellingdon Island, surrounded by the backwaters of Kochi.

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Two teams with Gemini boats commenced rescue operations at Kalpetta, Wayanad and at Panmarum (13 kilometres south of Mananthavady), where they evacuated 55 stranded people till 12 noon on Friday, a defence press release said.

The opening of the dam shutters had resulted in an increase in the water level in the Periyar river.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has cancelled all his programmes and will be stationed here in the context of the grave situation and also forecast heavy rains over the next few days as well. An Inter-ministerial Central team is also visiting the flood-affected area and the Army support is being mobilized from Bengaluru, the statement said. One of its shutters was opened on Thursday after a gap of 26 years. Idukki district received 167.2 mm rainfall on Thursday, which is more than eight times the normal.

The water level will rise in downstream districts with the released excess water from the dams reaching there.

Union minister Alphons Kannamthanam said he discussed the flood situation in Kerala with Home Minister Rajnath Singh this morning.

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"Wetland refilling, encroachment and unauthorized construction in river banks and conversion of paddy fields have affected the flow of water, leading to stagnation and flash floods", another official at KSDMA said on condition of anonymity.

The monsoon has so far claimed over 175 lives, besides causing destruction to crops and dwellings, officials said.

In Ernakulam, 3,456 people have been shifted to camps following floods after four shutters of the Idamalayar dam were opened yesterday. The road to Kakkayam dam site in Kozhikode was cut off after the connecting road was washed away in the floods, reports the Hindu. In Palakkad district, the flood waters started receding on Friday as the quantity of water being released from Malampuzha dam was reduced.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, several are missing, with incessant rains for more than 48 hours in some areas inundating hectares of low-lying land, authorities said.

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