Kerala government says flood situation grave, calls in army

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Five An-32 transport aircraft were deployed to transport National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams and their equipment from Arakkonam to Calicut, an IAF spokesperson said. The relief and rescue ops are going on.

People stand on the steps of Aluva Shiva Temple complex submerged in water after the opening of Idamalayar dam shutter following heavy rains, on the outskirts of Kochi, India, August 9, 2018.

Talking to reporters here after a review meeting, the chief minister said the flood situation was "very grim" and it was for the first time in the history of the state that 24 dams have been opened at a time following the water level reaching their respective maximum.

Tincy, a panchayat member said as prior warning about the release of water had been issued, any kind of human casualty was avoided. The Centre today assured the Kerala government of all possible help in rescue and relief operations in the wake of rains and floods, which so far have claimed 26 lives in the state.

Shibu, a relief official told UCANEWS on Friday that almost 200 army soldiers joined rescue workers in the worst-hit Ayannkulu, Idukki and Wayanad areas. The chief minister is accompanied by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, Revenue minister, E Chandrasekharan, state Chief Secretary, Tom Jose and state Police Chief Loknath Behara.

The chopper of the chief minister could not land at Kattappana in Idukki due to bad weather. He tweeted, "Unprecedented rainfall has created havoc in Kerala, destroying property & forcing thousands to abandon their homes".

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Schools and colleges are closed in Idukki, Wayanad, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta districts. The shutters of a total of 24 dams, including the Cheruthoni dam on Idukki reservoir, have been opened this monsoon to drain out excess water from the catchment areas. Latest visuals of swollen Periyar river.

"Since heavy rains have led to widespread loss and destruction, we call upon all to donate to the Chief Minister's Fund", Vijayan said. "It is the biggest rain we had in 50 years", news agency ANI quoted KJ Alphons saying.

Northern and central Kerala have been battered by heavy rains of the Southwest monsoon since August 8, which has left 29 people dead, including three today.

Tourists were barred from entering the hilly Idukki district after roads caved in at many places.

Access to many of these places are hard and is affecting the rescue operations.

People living downstream of Periyar and Cheruthoni rivers have been warned that there is a possibility of inundation of banks as torrential rain pounded the state for the second day in a row. The government has asked tourists not to go to high-range areas and dam sites.