After 37 deaths, fresh rain alert issued in India’s Kerala state

Publish: 1:06 PM, August 12, 2018 | Update: 1:06:PM, August 12, 2018

NEW DELHI  – Indian authorities have sounded a fresh rain alert in Kerala state till Aug 15, even though the monsoon showers subsided and floods receded in the past 24 hours after three days of devastation that claimed 37 lives and rendered 34,000 homeless.

“Though there have been improvement in rain situation mainly in the worst-hit districts of Idukki and Wayanad, the fresh alert has been sounded after the weather department’s forecast of heavy rains till Aug. 15,” a disaster management official said Sunday.

“Flood warning has also been issued in some low-lying areas of the southern state. Fishermen have also been urged not to venture into the Arabian Sea,” he added.

In Idukki district, which mostly bore the brunt of the devastation and recorded the maximum number of deaths, rainfall was recorded at 40 mm this morning from 90 mm of showers for a period of 24 hours on Saturday morning, a weather official said.

Moreover, there has been a decrease in the water level in the Idukki dam, the biggest arch dam in Asia which was opened for the first time this week to release excess water after a gap of 26 years.

“From its maximum of 2,403 feet in the past few days, the water level in the dam declined to some 2,399 feet this morning,” the disaster management official said.

Apart from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), Indian Army, Navy and Air Force have been pressed into rescue work. “Some 14 NDRF teams and 10 columns of the army are now in action in Thrissur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Wayand, Kozhikode and Idukki districts,” sources said.

“The Indian Air Force and the navy have also deployed their aircraft and choppers for airlifting those stranded in flood-hit areas,” sources added.

Meanwhile, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh is on his way to undertake an aerial survey of the state later in the day, along with senior officials, a day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did the same, along with the leader of opposition.

“Heading to Kerala to take stock of the situation in the state. Shall conduct a survey of the flood affected areas and also visit the relief camp sites,” the home minister tweeted before taking a special flight to the state.

Immediately after Saturday’s aerial survey of flood-hit districts, Vijayan described the grim situation as “an unprecedented natural disaster.”

“We face an uphill task in rebuilding devastated areas. We need help from all quarters,” he told the media. The chief minister has also announced a compensation of 400,000 rupees (5,600 U.S. dollars) to families of those killed in floods and rainslides who lost their loved ones, and up to 1 million rupees for those who have lost both their land as well as house.

On the other hand, several tales of bravery have started doing the rounds on social media, including that of a dramatic rescue of a child by a disaster relief personnel and the bark of a pet dog that saved a family from getting
washed away in floods.

The young disaster relief personnel holding tight a child in his arms running across a sinking bridge in Idukki district on Friday is now the most- viewed footage that has gone viral on social media. Moments after they cross the bridge, it was washed away in floods.

This is the worst floods witnessed by Kerala in recent years though last month’s rains claimed 40 lives.