The operations of flight to and from Kochi's Cochin International Airport in Kerala has been suspended on Wednesday due to the rising water level in and around the airport. The flight operations have been suspended till 2 pm of August 18.
Torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslides ravaged Kerala, where 40 lives have been lost so far. Unabated rains forced the government to do away with the official 'Onam' celebrations and the amount set apart for the purpose would be utilised for relief operations, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters.
State Governor P Sathasivam also decided to cancel the reception to be hosted by him on Wednesday as part of Independence Day celebrations due to the floods in the state. Since Wednesday morning, various parts of Kerala, especially the two hilly districts of Wayanad and Idukki, which are tourist destinations, were lashed by heavy rains.
Munnar town in Idukki district was almost totally cut off and traffic was disrupted after two shutters of the Mattupetti dam were opened as the water level rose. All the five shutters of Cheruthoni dam, part of Idukki reservoir, were opened this evening following heavy rains in the catchment areas. Two shutters, which had been closed on Wednesday, were opened in the evening as the water level rose.
The rising level at the Mullaperiyar dam, which touched 136.10 feet against its maximum level of 142 feet, was still a matter of concern, official sources said. An alert has been sounded, asking people to remain cautious, they said. A series of landslides were reported in Kurichya and Makki hills and the Thamarassery ghat road in Wayanad.
Heavy rains are also lashing the northern Kerala districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur and Palakkad. Ottapalam in Palakkad received the highest rainfall of 13 cm today, followed by Munnar (Idukki) 12 cm and various places in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Waynad received 10 cm each, the weather office said.
According to authorities, over 215 landslides were reported in the rain battered state, where 444 villages were declared flood hit by the state government. At least 20,000 houses were fully destroyed in the deluge and about 30,000 persons had taken shelter in relief camps.
The rains and landslides had destroyed 10,000 km of roads in the state, Vijayan said.
A cabinet meeting on Wednesday allotted Rs 1,000 crore for repairing public roads, destroyed in rains across the state. Besides, Rs 200 crore was set apart for repairing roads in the Sabarimala region. Vijayan also requested government and PSU employees to donate two days' salary for the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund.
Huge trees were seen washed away in a river at Kottiyoor in Kannur, where a landslide was reported in Chappamala hills. Low-lying areas of Nilambur in Malappuram were inundated and roads were flooded in many places, causing severe traffic snarls. Rainwater also gushed on to National Highways in many parts of the district.
Ayyappa devotees were asked not to visit the hill shrine at Sabarimala as the rain-fed Pampa river rose menacingly. As per the preliminary estimate, Kerala suffered a loss of Rs 8,316 crore in the heavy rains, which have been lashing the state since August 8. The weatherman has warned of heavy rains in some places in the state till August 18. Fishermen have been warned against putting out to sea.