Monsoon Fury Claims 26 Lives in Kerala; Scores of Dams Opened

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

In the advisory, the USA said the heavy southwest monsoon rains triggered landslides and floods in the state, and American citizens should avoid visiting all affected areas in the state.

A team sent by the Central government is also visiting flood-affected areas in Kerala.

"The rains have slowed down in and around the Idukki dam since last night and hence the water level in the dam has also come down", State Power Minister M.M. Mani said. The worsening flood situation in Kerala has forced the authorities to open all the five gates of the Idukki Hydel Project and shutters of over two dozen dams.

On Thursday, Kochi Airport halted its arrival operations for few hours in view of possible inundation in the airport area, following a rise in water level of the Periyar river.

Days of incessant rain have led to raging floods across Kerala.

One of the five shutters of a large reservoir in northern Idukki district, about 240 km (150 miles) from state capital Thiruvananthapuram, was opened for the first time in 26 years.

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NDRF team at work in Kerala. On Friday, rains continued to pound the hilly district of Idukki, even though the intensity of showers reduced in the rest of the state. The chief minister cancelled all his public functions till August 12, and said he will personally monitor the situation from the state capital. One of its shutters was opened on Thursday after a gap of 26 years.

Rino of Manaykkaparambil house, Panickankudy was killed in a landslip which occurred near the premises of his house on Friday.

He also said that complete attention should now focus on rehabilitating people living in the low lying areas of Ernakulam district should it become necessary due to the water released from the Idukki dam.

The opening of the dam shutters had resulted in an increase in the water level in the Periyar river.

A press release from the Defence Wing of the Press Information Bureau said that Army and Air Force have swung into action for disaster relief and rescue operations in monsoon-battered Kerala.

The water level in the Idukki dam stood at 2,399.58 feet (in relation to mean sea level) at 4.30 pm today against the full reservoir level of 2,403 feet, prompting the authorities to issue the red alert, officials said.

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