Kerala rain death toll touches 23, flights affected as Cochin International Airport shuts operations

Incessant rain in Kerala have claimed 23 lives in the past two days.  Morethan 50 people are reported missing after a massive landslide in Meppadi, Wayanad.

Heavy downpour is expected today in at least four districts, Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad. Over 22,000 people have been shifted to some 315 relief camps across the state, officials said.

Till late on Thursday the toll was eight, but a fresh count took the numbers to 23 on Friday. The worst affected districts include Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad, Kasargode and Idukki and the deaths have also been reported from these areas.

There has been 260 mm of rain in Wayanad — the parliamentary constituency of former Congress President Rahul Gandhi. A huge landslide has marooned around 2,000 people in Meppadi in the district.

A temple, mosque and estate workers quarters have collapsed in the area. It’s from this area that four bodies have been recovered from under the debris.

With the area still cut off, Gandhi has urged for help from the Centre. Authorities are trying their best to get the Air Force to begin rescue operations.

All schools, colleges and other educational institutions were shut in all the 14 districts on Friday keeping in mind the devastating rain and flood that had hit the state in a century last year.

A dozen teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are already at the job.

The situation worsened as the pace of the rising level of water is causing serious concern in parts of Pathanamthitta and Thrissur with most of the rivers there in spate.

Around 500 of those marooned in Meppadi have been moved to relief camps, a medical professional of the state government who is giving the required medical attention told the media that even though there are no serious ailments, all of them are in a state of mental shock.

“We have assured all people, that they do not have to worry , as the state government will take care of their needs,” State Education Minister C. Raveendranath said.

The railways have cancelled 12 trains and many had to be diverted. Road traffic has also been thrown out of gear with many stretches vanishing under water.

Airport shuts operaions

The Cochin airport has been closed till Sunday leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

The airport was initially closed at 9pm (India time) until midnight in view of a flood alert. In its latest update, the airport has announced that the operations will remain suspended until 3pm on Sunday, August 11.

Kerala CM seeks army help

Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had sought the army’s help in the relief and rescue operations.

Outgoing Congress chief and Wayanad Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi has also stepped in to help the people.

Vijayan in a Facebook post stated that he had sought the army’s help and an additional 13 more units of the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force).

Gandhi told the media in Delhi he had been asked by the Wayanad District Collector to postpone his trip to the constituency as it would affect the relief work. “I am going to speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to see maximum help is extended to Wayanad,” said Gandhi.

State Revenue Minister E. Chandrashekeran said Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad, Kasargode and Idukki districts were the worst affected areas.

Meanwhile, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy rains in the state till August 14. Red alerts have been issued in Idukki, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kozhikode districts.

Fishermen have been asked not to venture out because winds were blowing at 40-50 km per hour.