Kerala rains: Death toll mounts to 37, 14 districts on high alert

Kochi: More than half of the 14 districts in Kerala have been put on high alert, officials said on Saturday, as the death toll from one of the worst floods in the State reached 37.

Torrential rains and landslides during India`s June-September monsoon season have ravaged farmlands and prompted massive evacuation efforts in Kerala.

Crops on 1,031 hectares (2547.66 acres) have been damaged and 31,000 people have been forced to take shelter in rescue camps, according to the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority`s (KSDMA) control room in the State capital.

A senior official there said eight districts had been put on varying levels of high alert.

Another government official previously told Reuters that crop worth 3.42 billion rupees ($49.65 million), across 26,824 hectares had been destroyed by rains since their onset on 29 May.

P H Kurian, KSDMA`s chief and a top state bureaucrat, said rains had eased. “There was no rain in the catchment areas of major reservoirs yesterday,” Kurian said. “However, we will continue our alert and preparedness till 15 August.”

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was expected to travel to the State today to take a stock of the relief and rescue operations, Kurian added.

Kerala state authorities have taken the unprecedented step of opening the gates of 25 water reservoirs to prevent potentially disastrous breaches.

The State, which has 44 rivers, witnessed its worst floods in 1924 following torrential rains. The weather department forecast heavy rains until 15 August, India`s Independence Day, also warning of flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the Arabian sea.

DMK donates Rs one cr
Following Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s appeal to people to make donations to the CM’s relief fund, the DMK today announed contributing a sum of Rs one crore towards the flood relief for the neighbouring State.