Landslides caused by monsoon rains kill 19 in southern India

Rains, landslides kill 24, displace thousands in India's Kerala state

Thousands living around the Idukki dam and in Ernakulam and Thrissur heaved a sigh of relief on Saturday as the heavy rains predicted in Kerala did not happen and as a result the Idukki dam waters ravaging the area over the last few days subsided. Nearly all the 40-odd rivers in the state are in spate.

A red alert was issued for Idukki and its adjoining districts in view of the possibility of release of more water from the Idukki reservoir.

According to state disaster control room, 15,695 people have been shifted from low-lying areas to 241 relief camps across the state.

Urging everyone to contribute generously to relief efforts, Mr Vijayan, in a Facebook post said that rebuilding the affected areas is going to be an arduous task.

An alert has been issued to people living in the downstream areas and on the banks of Cheruthoni and Periyar rivers. Due to the increase in the water level at Idukki dam, "It is essential to release water three times (more) than what was being released now", Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

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"Twenty four dams have been opened so far which is unprecedented and is telling of the seriousness of the situation". However, many areas are still inundated and people were seen trying to save their belongings. It is the first time in the history that all the five shutters of Idukki dam have been raised.

The maximum storage level of the reservoir, which is one of the largest arch dams in Asia, is 2,403 feet.

Water from the dam would be let into Cheruthoni and Periyar rivers.

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

The casualty in Idukki district included five members of a family in Adimali town. Two persons were pulled out alive from the debris by the local people and police.

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Vijayan said the annual Nehru Trophy boat race, scheduled to be held at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha district on August 11, has been postponed due to floods. So, the boat race has been postponed. "As you know, eastern Kerala is full of ghats", Dr K Sathi Devi, an IMD scientist in New Delhi, said.

Though the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority had on Wednesday announced that only one shutter would be operated and 82 cumecs water would be released if the water level rises up to 17 m before 6 a.m. on Thursday, the relentless rain caused a change in plan.

A 24×7 monitoring cell has been set up at the Secretariat here to co-ordinate the relief works with various district collectors. Around 500 cubic metres per second (cumecs) of water was initially discharged, which was then gradually increased to 600 and 700 cumecs before settling at 600 cumecs around noon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with the Chief Minister yesterday in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the state, and offered all possible assistance to those affected.

The spokesperson said three contingents (50 men each) from INS Dronacharya, Venduruthy and Naval Air station INS Garuda were ready to be deployed as and when required, besides a medical team from INHS Sanjivani.

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