At least six people were killed and dozens missing as torrential rains hit southern and central Kerala, causing floods and landslides in many parts on Saturday.
The state government requested the assistance of the defense forces for rescue operations.
Many people have been injured and displaced in rain-related accidents in the southern state as dams in many counties are nearing full capacity, and small towns and villages in mountainous regions are completely cut off from the outside world.
Several mountainous districts of Kottayam, Idukki and Pathanamthita are experiencing almost a similar situation to the situation the state faced during the period of devastating floods in 2018 and 2019, but the authorities said everything was under control and there was no need for any panic.
However, rescue teams of the state police and fire brigade were unable to reach the affected areas due to the floods and bad weather conditions prevailing there.
“The situation is serious,” Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. However, he said the latest weather forecast indicates that the situation will not get any worse.
Officials said members of the Army, Air Force and Navy were on their way to Kottikal and Beruvanthanam – the two mountain villages that lie under Kottayam and Idukki districts respectively – as a flooding river swept into homes, displacing and isolating many.
The Minister of State Cooperation V.N. Vasavan, who has reached the neighborhoods of those villages hit by the landslide, said the bodies of two women and a child who died were found while searching to retrieve the body of a man who also lost his life in the accident.
He said at least 12 people are missing from these villages.
In a separate rain-related incident, a man and a woman – both aged 30 – died when their car was swept into floodwaters in Kanjar in Idukki district, police said. They said their bodies had been recovered.
According to a defense spokesperson, Mi-17 and Sarang Helicopters are already on standby to meet the requirements but have not been able to start operations because the weather in Kottayam is still bad. She said Air Force assets are still in Solor on standby.
“All bases of the Southern Air Command have been placed on high alert due to the prevailing weather in Kerala,” the spokesman said in a statement.
“The Indian Army has already deployed Army personnel to the flood affected areas. One column consisting of an officer, 2 NCOs and 30 OTC Army personnel has already moved to Kangirapalli in Kottayam district from Bangod military station…” she said.
The Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy said it is fully prepared to assist the local administration in the rescue operations.
“Diving and rescue teams are ready to deploy at short notice. Helicopters are on standby as soon as the weather is favorable for Air Ops,” she said in a tweet.
Earlier, Minister of Cooperation and Registration VN Vasavan said that at least three houses were swept away in Kottayam district and some people are feared missing.
“At least four landslides have been reported from different parts of Kottayam district. We have requested Air Force assistance to rescue the stranded people in Kothikal district. We have received information about some missing persons and more than 60 waiting to be rescued. entered their homes.
According to the latest update of the Indian Meteorological Department, a “red alert” has been issued for six districts – Patanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Trisur and Palakkad.
Kottayam and Pathanamthitta are the areas worst hit so far due to heavy rains since Friday night.
Visible images appeared on social media from various parts of Kottayam district, including a KSRTC bus stuck in flood waters and locals rescuing passengers from it.
Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a high-level meeting in the evening to review the rain situation and decided to reinforce rescue operations in all affected areas.
The Prime Minister said, in a statement, that all government agencies were directed to take the necessary steps to rescue people from the affected areas and evacuate those living in areas prone to landslides and floods. Vijayan also directed collectors of the area to open relief camps to transport the affected people.
He said the camps should operate strictly with strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocol.
Following the warning that rains will continue until October 19, the meeting also decided not to allow pilgrims to go to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple located in a dense forest in Pathanamthitta district, until October 18. Pooja Thula masam.
The statement stated that higher education institutions, which were scheduled to open on October 18, will start on October 20.
He appealed to the people of the state to exercise extra vigilance during the next 24 hours, the Prime Minister said in a post on Facebook that the rains have already hit the southern and central neighborhoods and will intensify in the northern regions as well by evening, according to the weather forecast.
He noted that water levels are expected to rise in some rivers and shutters are likely to open for some dams, adding that those who live in water harvesting areas should be prepared to follow the authorities’ instructions.
The CM also said a red alert has been issued for dams under KSEB, including Kakki dam in Pathanamthitta, Sholayar dam in Thrissur and Kundala and Kallarkutti dam in Idukki.
Meanwhile, two children miraculously managed to escape after a part of their house wall collapsed due to incessant rain on Friday night in Chimpakkamangalam in the metropolitan area as rains swept the city and rural areas alike since last night.
Family sources said the wall collapsed on the bed where the children were sleeping, but they survived with minor injuries.
Government authorities have advised people not to visit tourist places and to approach rivers and other water bodies due to heavy rains in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).
Road destruction has been reported in many places including in Kollam and Kottayam districts while severe waterlogging has made life miserable in Kottanad district, popularly known as “rice bowl” of the state scattered in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts.
The Thrissur district administration has urged people living in low-lying areas, other disaster-prone areas and on the banks of rivers to move to safer places.
They added that fishing boats were prevented from venturing into the sea.
A red alert has also been issued for Chulliyar Dam in Palakkad and Peechi Dam in Thrissur, which are under the Irrigation Department.
Revenue Minister K. Rajan that precautions have been taken, “We have asked the county collectors to issue warnings to people residing along the banks of the river,” Rajan said.