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Kerala floods: India Navy opens INS Garuda Airport to aid operations, Kochi airport remains shut

Members of a rescue team row a boat towards a submerged temple to look for a man believed to be stranded inside the temple during heavy rains on the outskirts of Kochi in Kerala. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi Aug 09, 2019, 10.57 AM (IST) Edited By: Sparshita Saxena

In the wake of heavy rainfall and flooding in the southern state of Kerala, the Indian Navy on Friday decided to open INS Garuda Airport, naval air station, to aid operations in Kochi. 

The development comes as operations at Cochin International Airport remain been suspended till August 11, 3 pm. 

Heavy spells of rain seem to have gripped the state of Kerala again this year after wreaking havoc last monsoon. 

So far, over 20 lives have been lost in rain and flood-related incidents across the state - primarily from districts like Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad, Kasargode and Idukki.

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According to reports, Wayanad comes as the worst-hit district where 260 mm of rainfall has been recorded. A 'Red Alert' has been sounded in the district along with Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode. 

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A massive landslide has marooned around 2,000 people in Meppadi in the district. 

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Over 22,000 people have been shifted to some 315 relief camps across the state. Chief Minister Pinarayi said that the intensity of the rain is likely to subside from tomorrow but another heavy spell expected from August 15. 

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According to reports, the water level in the Periyar river has been on the rise with many rivers across the state in spate. 

Kerala Government has declared a holiday today for all schools across the state. As per reports, more than 315 camps have been set up for assistance and over 20,000 people have been evacuated.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sought the Indian Army's help in relief and rescue operations.

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A dozen teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are already at the job.

Former Congress chief and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi on Thursday expressed concern over the situation in the district. 

"I am very concerned about the rainfall and landslide in my constituency (Wayanad). I have talked to officers there and also talked to the Chief Minister of Kerala over it. I will also take this up with the Prime Minister and request him for assistance," he told reporters here.

"I was planning to go there but the Collector told me that it will not be a good idea because it would disturb rescue operations. I will try and go there as soon as possible," he added.

Gandhi requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide assistance for his Lok Sabha constituency which is facing the wrath of heavy rainfall and landslides.

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"Wayanad MP @RahulGandhi spoke to the Prime Minister seeking all possible assistance for the people severely affected by the floods and landslides in the state, especially in Wayanad. The PM has assured to provide any assistance required to mitigate the effects of the disaster," read post on Gandhi's official Wayanad Twitter handle.

Last year's disastrous floods in Kerala claimed over 350 lives across the state.

The shutters of nearly 33 dangerously full dams and reservoirs were opened for the first time in the history of Kerala in nearly a century. 

State authorities estimated a cumulative loss worth over Rs 21,000 crore in the catastrophe that was announced as 'calamity of severe nature' by the central government. 

A 'Red Alert' spells out a warning for very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall, whereas an 'Orange Alert' denotes that an area is likely to get heavy to very heavy rainfall. 

(With inputs from agencies) 


 

Story highlights

Kerala Government has declared a holiday today for all schools across the state. As per reports, more than 315 camps have been set up for assistance and over 20,000 people have been evacuated.