India – Dams Open as Deadly Floods Hit Kerala

At least 20 people have died in the state of Kerala in south west India after torrential rain triggered floods and landslides from 08 August, 2018.

Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, said earlier today that “heavy rains are causing destruction in many parts of the state. Debris flows and soil erosions have occurred in Wayanad, Idukki and Malappuram districts.

“The help of forces has been sought. They have been deployed for the rescue efforts in Wayanad, Idukki, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.”

Three teams of NDRF have been deployed at Kozhikode, Ernakulam and Alappuzha districts. Army, Navy, Police and Fire personnel are active in rescue efforts, according to the Chief Minister.

Kerala State Disaster Management Agency (KSDMA) reported that around 192 families have been evacuated and moved to 10 relief camps in Palakkad.

Train travel has been severely disrupted in the state and flights to Cochin International Airport were temporarily suspended for around 2 hours.

Press Trust of India (PTI) said that 11 people were killed in a massive landslide in Idukki. Other deaths occurred in northern Malappuram district (6), Kannur (2) and 1 in Wayanad district.

The state has already suffered considerably during this year’s monsoon. According to figures from India’s National Disaster Division, between 29 May and 19 July at least 130 people had lost their lives in Kerala as a result of disasters caused by monsoon rainfall.

Dams Opened

PTI said that “with water levels rising in various dams and reaching almost its maximum capacity, shutters of at least 22 reservoirs in the state have been opened to drain out excess water.”

The Chief Minister said the “heavy rains have necessitated the opening of the shutters of Idukki Cheruthoni dam”. Kerala State Disaster Management Agency (KSDMA) said that one shutter will be opened as a trial and that communities down stream would be warned.

Two shutters of Idamalayar dam were opened at 05:00 on 09 August.

PTI says that this is the first time the Idukki Cheruthoni flood gates have been opened in 26 years and the first time in the state’s history that so many dams have been opened.

Rainfall, Rivers and Reservoirs

Local meteorological observers Chennai Rains said via Social Media that Palakkad recorded 214 mm of rainfall in 24 hours to early 09 August, adding “that’s just about 20 mm short of highest recorded 24 hour rainfall in the city, 236 mm way back in May 1957.”

India Meteorological Department (IMD) figures show that in a 24 hour period to 09 August, Idukki recorded 167.2 mm of rain, Malappuram 83.2 mm, Palakkad 89.1 mm and Wayanad 170.9 mm.

India’s Central Water Commission Flood Forecast unit said that the River Kabini at Muthankera (Wynadu District) has crossed its previous Highest Flood Level (HFL) of 712.735 metres recorded in June 1992. The river is expected to rise further.

According to KSDMA, as of 09 August, the Idamalayar Dam Reservoir Level was 169.74 metres, above capacity or full reservoir level (FRL) of 169 metres.

The Idukki Reservoir level (given in feet) was 2,399.58 feet (731.39 m), where FRL is 2,403 feet (732.43 metres).

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