More than 20 dead after Massive flooding hits southern India

KOCHI, India, Oct 18 (The Remnants) – Leaders in the southern Indian state of Kerala opened near-overflowing dams on Monday after at least 22 people died when heavy rains lashed the region over the weekend.

Rainfall across Keralatriggered flash floods and landslides in several areas, with the Indian army and navy called out to rescue residents.

Opening dams could reduce the risk of potentially catastrophic overflows like those partly blamed for the state’s worst floods in a century in 2018, when at least 400 people were killed and 200,000 displaced. But by releasing water downstream, areas already experiencing floods could suffer more.

Authorities have already opened smaller dams to prevent flooding, Kerala Power Minister K Krishnankutty said in a statement, while the state’s largest, the Idukki dam, will also be opened on Tuesday morning local time.

Sheeba George, the top official in Idukki district, told local media that dozens of families had been evacuated from their homes ahead of the dam openings.

At least 13 people were killed by a landslide in the village of Kuttikkal, officials and witnesses said.

A general view of a house damaged in the heavy rains received in Kottayam, Kerala, India, October 17, 2021
A general view of a house damaged in the heavy rains received in Kottayam, Kerala, India, October 17, 2021

“There were four landslides that happened there yesterday, the hill behind me, which brought water and other items downwards,” a local resident told Reuters partner ANI on Sunday, standing in front of a now-barren hillside.

P.K. Jayasree, the top government official in Kottayam district where the landslide took place, said six of the dead were from a single family.

Kerala will receive further widespread rain, including isolated heavy downpours in many areas, for two to three days from Oct. 20, the state government said on Monday.

Here are the highlights on Kerala rain:- 

  • At least 25 people have died due to rain-related incidents in Kerala, according to news agency AFP. Some 11 bodies have been found so far in Idukki district and another 14 in Kottayam district, officials told AFP, after the areas were hit by landslides and flash floods.
  • “Spoke to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the situation in the wake of heavy rains and landslides in Kerala. Authorities are working on the ground to assist the injured and affected. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” tweets Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It is saddening that some people have lost their lives due to heavy rains and landslides in Kerala. Condolences to the bereaved families,” he added.
  • Death toll due to heavy rains and landslide in Kerala now stands at 21, including 13 in Kottayam and eight in Idukki, the state’s Information and Public Relations Department informed.
  • Heavy rain has caused landslide, damage and destruction in Koottickal area of Kottayam district. Rescue operation is still underway, reported ANI. Meanwhile, heavy rains continue in parts of Kerala.
  • Three more bodies have been recovered from the site where a landslide occurred in Kokkayar, Idukki on Saturday, the Kerala Government was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
  • The Indian Air Force has inducted its medium-lift helicopters for flood relief efforts in the rain-hit districts of Kerala.
  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that the intense spell of rainfall activity over Kerala and Mahe, South Interior Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal likely to reduce from today.
  • Rains subsided a bit in central Kerala. In the landslide-hit areas, where the personnel from the Indian Army have now begun relief operations, 17 people are still reported to be missing.
  • As many as 18 people have died in rain-related incidents in the southern state so far. The majority of the deaths were due to landslides, according to officials.
  • Union home minister Amit Shah tweeted, “We are continuously monitoring the situation in parts of Kerala in the wake of heavy rainfall and flooding. The central government will provide all possible support to help the people in need. Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have already been sent to assist in the rescue operations. Praying for everyone’s safety.”
  • Nine more bodies were recovered this morning from the disaster-affected areas. One of the deceased, whose body was recovered from Kokkayar, has been identified as Olikkal Shallot (29).
  • Sniffer dogs have been pressed into service. They were reported to have done a good job last year during the Idukki landslide crisis.
  • The maximum amount of damage due to rainfall in Kerala has been reported from the Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, and the Idukki districts. Peerumedu in Idukki received a record rainfall of 270mm.
  • The water level of the Muvattupuzha river in the Ernakulam district was reported to be rising above normal, according to the ANI news agency.
  • Authorities in Kerala have urged devotees of Lord Ayyappa to refrain from visiting the Sabarimala temple in the Pathanamthitta district on Sunday and Monday.
  • Kerala chief minister Vijayan said all government agencies have been directed to take necessary steps to rescue people from the affected regions and evacuate those living in areas prone to landslides and floods. The district collectors have also been asked to open relief camps to relocate the affected people. However, they have been told that the camps should function strictly adhering to Covid-19 protocol.
  • In many districts, dams are nearing their full capacity and small towns and villages in the hilly areas remain totally cut off. However, authorities have urged citizens not to panic, insisting that “everything is under control”.
  • The Indian Navy, which has joined the relief efforts along with other columns of the armed forces, has been dropping food packets to the stranded from choppers. Other Navy choppers with relief materials are already airborne from INS Garuda towards the rain-affected areas. Two Air Force choppers Mi-17 are on standby at the AF Station in Shangumugham.
  • The Indian Army is conducting rescue operations for missing persons in debris in Kavali and Kottayam. One column of Army personnel from DSC Centre, Kannur, with engineering and medical components arrived at Wayanad for rescue operations. The engineering task force from Bengaluru is also expected to arrive at Wayanad soon. A total o three columns have been deployed by the Indian Army so far.
  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday projected “only light to moderate rainfall” over Kerala during the next 24 hours. “The low-pressure area over the southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Kerala has become less marked. There is a possibility of light to moderate rainfall at many places with only isolated heavy rainfall over the state during the next 24 hours and further decrease thereafter,” news agency ANI reported, citing an IMD bulletin for the southern state. A yellow alert has also been issued for heavy rain in eleven districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, and Kozhikode.