KOCHI/IDUKKI —Rains continued to lash many parts of Kerala on Sunday amid predictions of extremely heavy rainfall in six districts, raising concerns of aggravated flood situation in low lying areas, even as the death toll in the recent massive landslide in Idukki district rose to 43 with 17 more bodies being retrieved from the debris.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted extremely heavy rainfall in Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Alappuzha districts.
Sounding a red alert, the IMD said these districts are likely to receive over 20 cms rain in the next 24 hours.
IMD officials said almost all districts north of Alappuzha are likely to receive over 20 cms rains.
There is likely to be a reduction in rainfall from Tuesday, they said.
Three days after the settlements of estate workers were swept away by devastating landslides at Pettimudi near Rajamala, various agencies engaged in the rescue operations on Sunday recovered 17 bodies.
Despite adverse weather conditions in Pettimudi, rescue operations by NDRF, fire and police department personnel are continuing to recover bodies of more people feared trapped in the landslide, officials said.
While 12 people were rescued, 43 bodies were found.
Meanwhile, incessant rains, landslides and opening of shutters of dams across rivers have led to rise in water levels in rivers and streams in central Kerala, aggravating the flood situation.
Six shutters of Pamba dam in Pathanamthitta district were opened this afternoon after its water level rose to 983.45 meter mark, raising concerns about floods in Ranni, Chengannur and Kuttanad regions.
The shutters were opened to bring down the water level in the dam to 982 meters in nine hours, Pathanamthitta district officials said.
There will be a 40 cm rise in water level in river Pamba, they said.
Anticipating breach of the river in areas downstream of Pathanamthitta, the district administration has sought the assistance of fishermen to carry out rescue operations.
Fishermen from Neendakara and Alappad in neighbouring Kollam district will reach vulnerable areas of Pathanamthitta, including Thiruvalla and Adoor with 15 boats, officials said.
Last month, 30 fishermen arrived from Kollam with 10 boats deployed at Kozhencherry and Ranni, officials said.
Nearly 100 families living in the vulnerable areas in Ranni have been shifted to safety, they said.
Normal life of people in low lying areas of Kottayam and Alappuzha has been affected with flood waters entering their homes.
Low-lying areas in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts have been badly hit due to flooding.
Hundreds of families have been shifted to relief camps from-low lying areas, including Kumarakom and Kuttanad regions of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts, they said.
Farming in Kuttanad ‘Below Sea Level Farming System’, the only such one in India practicing rice cultivation below sea level for the past two centuries, has been affected due to the breach of bunds due to floods, farmers of the area said.
An airport taxi driver was washed away in flood waters at Manarcad area in Kottayam district in the wee hours of Sunday.
The body of the man, identified as Justin from Angamaly, was later recovered by the rescue personnel.
Officials said four cases of drowning have been reported from Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Alappuzha districts in the past 24 hours.
Considering the spread of COVID-19, the authorities have opened separate camps for different categories of the flood affected people.
In Ernakulam district, 1,203 flood affected people have been shifted to relief camps.
While 1,118 people have been lodged in general relief camps, 67 senior citizens are in camps for those above 60 years of age.
Eighteen people are staying in the camps set for quarantined people, district administration officials said.