Kerala monsoon fury: 5 more killed in landslides, toll rises to 72

Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi: Five persons were killed in a landslide in Palakkad district of Kerala today even as torrential rains led to the collapse of the public transport system in many parts of the state with the Southern Railways and Kochi Metro suspending operations.

Palakkad district police sources said the five persons were killed in Nenmara while two were rescued, taking the death toll to 72 in the current phase of Monsoon fury.

Reports of a landslide have also come in from Thrissur district, and some people are said to be missing, the sources said.

Rise in flood waters in Periyar River due to the rains and opening of all shutters of all major dams, including Mullaperiyar, Cheruthoni, part of Idukki reservoir and Idamalayar, have severely affected lives of people in downstream areas.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan once again called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprised him of the flood situation in the state. The state has also sought the services of additional Army personnel and helicopters, and the Prime minister has assured all help, Vijayan said.

“Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan again this morning. We discussed the flood situation in the state. Have asked Defence Ministry to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala. @CMOKerala,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

The Chief Minister also called up Home Minister Rajnath Singh and spoke to him about the flood situation and sought more central help for relief and rescue operations.

Floods continue to ravage most parts of Kerala, especially Pathanamthitta, Ernakukam and Alappuzha districts, where several people, including children and elderly, are trapped in their houses.

Kochi Metro suspended operations this morning after flood waters entered the Muttom yard near Aluva, and train services have been affected in various parts of the state with cancellation of many passenger trains and partial cancellation of some long distance train.

“Kochi Metro train operation is suspended as the water level rose in Muttom yard area,” a KMRL statement said. A high alert situation continues in all the 14 districts in the state.

At least 24 people had lost their lives on a single day yesterday in the state, taking the death toll to 67. Over 1.5 lakh people have been moved to 1,067 relief camps across the State, sources said.

In Pathnamthitta district Ranni, Kozhencherry and Aranmula are among the areas worst affected. NDRF teams have been sent to rescue people stranded in their waterlogged houses.

Flood waters have reached even second floors of various homes and people have taken shelter in the terraces of their houses. They are trapped with no drinking water, food and power.

Television visuals this morning showed Army personnel, who arrived in boats, rescuing an elderly person and few others trapped in a marooned house in Kozhencherry.

Girl students of Aranmula Engineering College and their warden, who were stuck in the hostel, were rescued by Air force personnel. An Army contingent with boats reached the state capital last night for the rescue operations in Ranni, Kozhhenchery and Aranmula areas.

Due to land slip between Kulitturai-Eraniel stations in the Thiruvananthapuram-Nagercoil Junction section, some passenger trains were cancelled while a few others were partially cancelled.

Cochin International Airport had yesterday suspended all flight operations till Saturday as water entered the airport area following continuous rains and opening of dam shutters in Periyar River.

A Defence spokesperson said the Navy has been getting several SoS calls from thousands of people marooned in their houses in many parts of central and south Kerala.

The spokesperson said calls were being received from all over the region, adding it was, however, impossible to reach some specific people as everyone en route were in a similar situation and needed help.

Hence, he said the Navy was operating as per the information being provided by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), which is coordinating the rescue and relief operations.