Kochi: Distress calls flooded media offices and Revenue help lines from among 10,000-odd people trapped in homes and other buildings in the 12 worst-hit districts as the death toll in incessant rains and swollen rivers rose to 91 in two days on Thursday.
The Army, Navy, Air Force, disaster management and police personnel battled the rising waters to take people to safety in dinghies and other craft. Fishermen from Kollam volunteered with rescue operations in their country craft in Pathanamthitta.
Many places on arterial national highways and main centre road were flooded, leading to the suspension of traffic.
14 people died in a landslide at Kuranchary in Thrissur in the single worst mishap. Pathanmthitta bore the brunt with the entire district reeling under rising water level. Kannur, Palakkad, Ernakulam and Idukki in the north and central Kerala suffered unprecedented loss of lives and property in the monsoon.
Rains are expected to last till Sunday and the meteorological department has issued a red alert warning of heavy to very heavy rainfall in the worst affected districts of Ernakulam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur. Heavy rains at isolated places are also forecast in the remaining six districts. The rains, according to the MET department, are likely to moderate from Sunday.
For the first time in the history of Kerala, 58 dams under the KSEBL and 28 under the Irrigation department have reached the full reservoir capacity forcing authorities to open shutters, forcing people on the banks to scamper to safety.
Kuttanad in Alapuzha braced for another onset of flooding. The district administration asked the people to relocate from existing relief camps to new camps in other places. The video clip of a portion of Ambayathode hill near Kottiyoor in Kannur being swept away in a landslide captured the fury of rains, reeling under the biggest natural disaster in living memory. NH 47 was inundated in Aluva and thousands were stranded on upper floors of homes or educational institutions. Phone calls aired on the media, begging for mercy, from many parts of central Kerala completed the picture of agony facing the state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters in Thiruvanathapuram that the situation continued to remain grave in the state. He has requested the people residing within one km on either side of Chalakudy river and 0.5 km radius of Periyar in Ernakulam to move to safe places as water threatened to rise further. Although the state and central government agencies tried their best in reaching help to the needy, the situation remained grim with food stocks, medicine and drinking water running out in many places, stranded with people. People sent messages on WhatsApp, Facebook and SMS seeking help desperately, unable to connect with the authorities.