Army in four districts as rains claim 20 lives in Kerala

Four units of the Army were deployed in the flood- affected areas in Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malappuram districts to assist the civilian administration in rescue and relief works, even as the death toll rose to 20 by Thursday noon.

As many as 11 people were reported dead in Idukki district, six in Malappuram, two in Kozhikode and one in Wayanad.

Terming the flood situation as very grim, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the State was facing a disaster of unprecedented magitude. The Government, he said, had sought the help of the Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Military Engineering Service and NDRF to tackle the worsening crisis. He said 22 dams across the State, including the one at Idamalayar had to be opened to let out excess waters. People in the downstream areas have been alerted to the rising water level in rivers.

Three units of the NDRF were moved to Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Kozhikode and two more were getting ready for deployment. Steps are on to airlift the rescue equipment for the Army units from Bengaluru to Kochi and Kozhikode from where they would be transported by road. The State has also requested the Centre to despatch another six units of the NDRF for rescue operations in the worst- affected areas.

A state- level 24×7 monitoring cell headed by Additional Chief Secretary P.H.Kurian has been set up at the Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram to keep a close watch on the situation and coordinate emergency response. District- level cells headed by Collectors have also been established. In view of the flood situation, the Government has postponed the Nehru Trophy boat race scheduled to be held on August 11. The new dates would be announced by the Alappuzha district administration later.

Shutters of the Cheruthoni dam opened

With the water level in the Idukki reservoir rising fast, the shutters of the Cheruthoni dam were opened after 26 years in a trial run by noon. With the Kakki dam also opened, the authorities were gearing up for a fresh spell of flooding in the Kuttanand region that is just limping back to normal after days of waterlogging in the last spell of rains.

The Chief Minister said Ministers, MLAs and other elected representatives had been directed to help in coordinating the rescue and relief operations and volunteers were being drafted to assist the Police and Fire Force personnel.

Mr.Vijayan who earlier held discussions with the Central team currently in the State to assess the monsoon havoc, said he had highlighted the gravity of the flood situation. He said the Government had requested the team for more time to file a memorandum, taking into account the damages caused by the fresh spell of heavy rains.

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