Five persons died and around 15 reported missing in a series of landslides and floods in parts of central Kerala on Saturday following incessant rains from the early hours of the day.
Several vehicles, including transport buses, were stranded in the hilly terrains of Kottayam and Idukki districts as roads were blocked by land slips and landslides. Several houses and shops in Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts were flooded and people have taken shelters in first floors of many houses.
At Koottickal in Kottayam district three persons, including women and children, reportedly died in landslides at Plappally and Kavali areas. Eight more were still missing. There were reports that three bodies were spotted by the local people.
In the adjacent Idukki district, eight persons, including five children, were reported missing at Kokkayar near Peerumedu following land slide. Rescue operation were only progressing.
With landslides blocking most of the roads in the hilly terrain, rescue teams were also finding it difficult to reach the spot. Local people managed to rescue many, while severalhad miraculous escape by holding on to tree branches.
At Thodupuzha in the district, two persons died after their car was washed away over a canal at Kanjar. Both the bodies were recovered.
Many house and shops in major towns in Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts like Kanjirapally, Poonjar, Ranni and Konni were flooded. Vehicles were washed away at some places. Passengers in a transport bus had a narrow escape after the bus was caught up in flood at Poonjar. Local people rescued the passengers.
Army and Air Force were also joining the rescue operations apart from NDRF, Fire and Rescue Services and police. Bad weather affected attempts by rescue teams to reach the landslide-hit spots by air.
Low pressure formation over the Arabian sea has led to the heavy rains. While many parts of south and central Kerala were witnessing continuous rainfall with winds and thunders right from the early hours of Saturday, many parts of north Kerala were receiving heavy rains by evening. Water level in some parts of Alappuzha in the south was also reported to be rising by night.
Indian Meteorological Department sounded red alert in six districts in central and south Kerala, while orange alert was issued in four districts, including three in north Kerala. Water level in dams and reservoirs were being continuously monitored over the last few days in view of heavy rains.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened a high level meeting to review the situations. Directions were given to shift people from all calamity prone areas. As per later forecast the intensity of the rains may decline by Sunday.
Kerala had witnessed major natural calamities during the last three years beginning with a major flood in 2018 that claimed around 400 lives. In 2019 around 100 lives were lost in the natural calamities at various parts of the state. In 2020 a major landslide occurred at Pettimudi in Idukki district that claimed around 70 lives.
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