India – More Fatalities as Kerala Floods Continue

After a lull of two days, heavy rain has once again hit parts of Kerala, western India, causing further landslides and flooding.

Local media reported 5 more fatalities between 14 and 15 August, bringing the death toll 44 since the recent spate of flooding began a week ago.

The state had already suffered considerably during this year’s monsoon, with at least 130 rain-related deaths reported between 29 May and 19 July.

Image from the aerial survey conducted by CM Pinarayi Vijayan, 10 August 2018. Photo: Government of Kerala

Cochin Airport

Services at the Cochin International Airport have been suspended for several days.

Kerala’s Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the “operations of Kochi International Airport (COK) has been temporarily suspended till 18th Saturday 2pm due to the heavy rains rains and resultant flooding. CIAL (Cochin International Airport Ltd) is working hard to drain out the storm water.

The airport was previously closed for a few hours when heavy rain struck on 08 August. Cochin is not the only airport to suffer during times of flooding and is unlikely to be the last.

However, the closure of the airport for such a long period is a massive blow to the state’s vital tourism industry.

Press Trust of India (PTI) reported that 70 to 80 percent of bookings for important tourist destinations such as Idukki, Munnar and Kumarakom have been cancelled, according to Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).

Flood Gates and Dams

The gates of 33 dams across the state have been opened due to rising water levels.

Pinarayi Vijayan announced that water will be released from the Mullaperiyar reservoir. People in the villages of Manjumala, Kumily, Periyar, Upputhura and Ayyapankovil have been relocated.

The Chief Minister also said that neighbouring state Tamil Nadu may release water to the Kerala side of Periyar from Mullaperiyar reservoir considering the high inflow into the reservoir. Hence, Kerala authorities  decided to release more water from the Cheruthoni Dam.

“People living close to the banks of Periyar, which flows through Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur districts, should comply with the directions issued by District Collectors of these districts and move to relief camps,” the Chief Minister added.

As of 15 August, the Idamalayar dam stood at 169.20 metres, above full reservoir level (FRL) of 169 metres.

Meanwhile the Idukki Reservoir level (given in feet) was 2,398.90 feet (731.18 m), where FRL is 2,403 feet (732.43 metres).

Rivers

India’s Central Water Commission Flood Forecast unit said that the River Valapatnam at Perumannu in Kannur District is flowing in “Extreme Flood Situation.”

Rainfall

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) figures, several locations in the state recorded over 70 mm of rain in 24 hours to 14 August, including Idukki 79.1mm, Kasargod 75.2mm, Kozikod 83.4mm, Malappuram 75.5mm and Wayanad 73.3mm.

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