Half of Kerala reels under floods as 29 die, 54000 left homeless

Rains, landslides kill 24, displace thousands in India's Kerala state

The state, which has 44 rivers, witnessed its worst floods in 1924 following torrential rains.

As heavy rains continued to lash various parts of Kerala, two more shutters of the Cheruthoni Dam, part of the Idukki reservoir, were opened today as the water level touched 2,401 feet. Following which the District Collector has imposed a ban on heavy goods vehicles in Idukki till situation get better in the state.

On Saturday, the inflow into the dam stood at 6,00,000 litres of water per second, while the outflow through the floodgates is 7.50 lakh litres per second.

Several units of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed across the rain-affected districts along with four columns of the Army to rescue those who have been trapped in homes flooded by river water. Authorities have opened all five shutters of the Cheruthoni dam of the Idukki reservoir on Friday morning.

Following the opening of the Idamalayar dam, the waters flooded the Periyar river and reached the compound of the Cochin global airport, which was sbut for all arrivals in the afternoon.

At least 60 tourists, that included 20 foreigners as well were rescued from the Plum Judy resort in Munnar where they had been stranded since Wednesday, state Tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said.

"It is a very alarming situation", said state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, adding that it was the first time that the flood gates of so many dams had been opened on a single day. Water levels in rivers are on the rise.

"Wetland refilling, encroachment and unauthorized construction in river banks and conversion of paddy fields have affected the flow of water, leading to stagnation and flash floods", another official at KSDMA said on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, state Revenue minister E Chandrasekharan reviewed the flood situation and the precautionary measures to be taken in Aluva and nearby areas in view of the possibility of increase in the water level following release of more water from Idukki reservoir.

Cochin International Airport Limited sources said operations at the airport had not been affected.

The arrival operations were resumed from 3.05 pm this evening, a spokesperson of the airport said.

Over 15,600 people have been evacuated from the affected areas and around 500 relief camps have been set up. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh have spoken to the chief minister, assuring the state government of all help from the Centre.

In Palakkad district, the flood waters started receding today as the quantity of water being released from Malampuzha dam was reduced.

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