Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram/Bengaluru/ (PTI) The flood situation in South India continued to remain grim on Saturday, with Kerala being the worst hit as rains, coupled with landslides left 42 dead and nearly 1.25 lakh people displaced.
The monsoon fury continued unabated in Karnataka and in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, with the latter pressing the IAF to rescue stranded people from the worst-hit Avalanchi in Nilgiris district.
In Kerala, many people are still feared trapped under debris following major landslides that hit Kavalappara in Malappuram and Puthumala in Meppadi in Wayanad even as a red alert has been issued in eight districts of Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod.
As rescue operations were on in Kavalappara, another landslide occurred in the region on Saturday due to which search operations have been halted.
One of the four shutters of the Banasurasagar dam, located about 21 km from Kalpetta in Wayanad, one of the worst affected districts, was opened to discharge excess water and people on the banks of the Kabini river have been asked to be cautious.
One of the largest earth dams in India and the second largest of its kind in Asia, Banasurasagar impounds the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River.
The government allayed fears of opening dams, saying all the major reservoirs had enough storage capacity.
“While we are engaged in rescue operations, some are spreading false news across social media. Will take strict action against such people. Some people were spreading the news that there will be power cuts or shortage of petrol and all that,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
“Not all dams are full. We have enough storage capacity in all major dams of the state. As of now, only 30 per cent of water is there in Idukki dam. Last year it was nearly 98 per cent,” he added.
He said 80 landslides had occurred in eight districts in the last three days.
Rail services remain cancelled while flight operations from the Kochi international airport, suspended following inundation, will resume at noon on Sunday.
“Airport is ready. Flight operations will resume at noon tomorrow. That is ahead of the deadline. Airlines are instructed to facilitate services accordingly,” a Cochin International Airport Limited spokesperson said.
Rains have subsided in Ernakulam district, but Pathanamthitta district was receiving heavy rainfall and the water level in Pamba river was rising.
The government has opened 15 relief camps in Thiruvalla.
Across Kerala, 1,24,464 people have been shifted to 1,111 relief camps, including 25,0028 in Kozhikode and 24,990 in Wayanad, officials said.
The deluge continues in Kerala even as the state has not yet fully recovered from the extensive damage caused by the floods of August 2018 that claimed over 400 lives and left lakhs homeless.
Karnataka too saw no let-up in rains, with 24 people losing their lives so far in rain related incidents.
Most rivers are in spate and Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has termed the natural calamity the “biggest” in 45 years.
The state government pegged the losses caused by rains and floods at Rs 6,000 crore and Yediyurappa revealed that his government has sought Rs 3000 crore as relief from the Centre.
“So far 24 people have died in various rain-related incidents. As many as 2.35 lakh people have been moved to safety.222 head of livestock are dead and 44,013 head of cattle have been rescued and provided shelter,” he said.
Rescue and relief work was being carried out by teams of personnel, comprising NDRF, and the armed forces, he added.
Meanwhile, landslides were reported near Maranahalli in Sakaleshpur, official sources said.
The entire Pane Mangaluru village in Dakshina Kannada district was inundated by the swollen Netravati river, they said.
According to reports, several houses in Bantwal in that district, including that of former Union Minister Janardhan Pujari, were inundated.
However, he and his family members were rescued.
Meanwhile, in Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu, a flood alert has been sounded in five villages following discharge of surplus water from Pykara dam, which reached its full capacity of 96 feet due to incessant rains over the last one week.
The water in the dam and adjacent Mukurthi dam was steadily rising for the last two days and Pykara started overflowing as the capacity crossed to 98 feet, official sources said.
To avoid any eventualities, officials released surplus water from the dam this afternoon and District Collector Innocent Divya ordered people living on the banks and low lying areas in Mayar, Masinagudi,Thengumarada to move to safer places.
The Indian Air Force rescued 11 people, including two infants from rain-battered Avalanchi and shifted them to Coimbatore for medical help.
A Sarang helicopter of the Indian Air Force station in Sulur conducted two missions, even as the crew had to negotiate inclement weather, a Defence spokesperson said.
As many as “11 people requiring medical help have been shifted to Coimbatore,” he said adding two of these were infants.
The Sarang crew also did an aerial survey of the damage and airlifted “large amount of food and relief material to the affected site,” he added.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami said about 5,500 people in Nilgiris have been moved to relief camps, while 15,000 others have moved out and are staying with their relatives elsewhere.
A landslide occurred at Panthalur and restoration work was on, he said.