At least 19 people have died in Kerala after torrential rain caused landslides in multiple districts of the state on Saturday, The New Indian Express reported on Sunday.
Twelve deaths took place in Kottayam district, six in Idukki and one in Kozhikode.
The India Meteorological Department has placed the districts of Pathanthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur and Palakkad on red alert, and said that they are expected to receive extremely heavy rainfall.
The weather department has, however, predicted that intense rainfall will reduce from Sunday, and that most of the rainfall activity will “remain confined between 17th [October] afternoon to 18th forenoon”.
The Sabarimala pilgrimage has also been suspended till Tuesday due to the rains. TheKerala government has also postponed the reopening of colleges till October 20, The New Indian Express reported. Colleges were supposed to reopen on October 18.
The Indian Army, Air Force and National Disaster Response Force are engaged in rescue operations in Kerala.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday that the government is continuously monitoring the situation in Kerala. “The central govt will provide all possible support to help people in need,” he said in a tweet. “NDRF teams have already been sent to assist the rescue operations. Praying for everyone’s safety.”
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a meeting to review the flood situation on Saturday evening, and said that the situation was a grave one. He promised all-out efforts by the government to rescue stranded people. He added that indications are that the weather will not worsen, according to The Hindu.
The chief minister said that 105 relief camps have been set up across the state, and the government has made arrangements to start more of them, according to ANI. He added that according to the Central Water Commission, water levels are rising in the Madamon, Kalluppara, Thumpaman, Pullakayar, Manikkal, Vellaikadavu and Aruvipuram dams, located in the districts of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram.
Officials in the affected districts have relocated scores of families to relief camps. In some districts, the Army and National Disaster Response Force have been deployed to co-ordinate rescue efforts, and the Air Force is also on standby.
The Southern Naval Command has kept diving and rescue teams ready to be deployed at short notice in the state. However, it said that search and rescue operations have been severely restricted because of bad weather.
Revenue Minister K Rajan on Saturday reached Kottayam to take stock of relief and rescue efforts, according to ANI.