Heavy rains battered large swathes of the country on August 7 and the situation is remaining grim in flood-hit parts of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.
Kerala – especially the northern districts of the state – has been witnessing heavy downpour for last three days. A red alert, a warning about extreme bad weather with life threatening situations, was declared for Idukki, Malappuram and Kozhikode on Wednesday. In Thrissur, Palakkad, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod districts, orange alert has been declared, which indicates likely disruption of travel and power facilities due to bad weather.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted an extremely heavy rainfall on Thursday – more than 204 mm rainfall in 24 hours – in Kozhikode, Malappuram and Idukki districts.
In the state, so far, three people have lost their lives. Series of landslides and landslips have occurred in Idukki, Kannur, Wayanad and Malappuram districts and due to the flood-like situation, rural areas of Northern districts have been isolated. Towns and villages nearing main rivers are submerged in water. Heavy crop damage was also reported from various parts of the Northern districts of the state.
Water levels in almost all the rivers are high and rivers including Pampa, Achankovilar, etc. are overflowing. As the water level is increasing, people living along the banks of the rivers and downstream have been alerted. The shutters of Pamba, Kallarkutti and Malankara dams have been opened since the water level of Periyar is increasing.
State Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan, however, said that relief camps are being set up if there are any emergencies. Police and fire and rescue teams are deployed in red alert areas. The state also sought 10 more battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has issued an emergency helpline number ‘1077’ for people in the state.
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The IMD has also issued thunderstorm warnings in Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kannur and Kasaragod districts. Fishermen have also been warned not to venture into the sea till Friday, as high waves have been forecast.
As of Thursday evening, as many as 1,385 people have been shifted to relief camps. The state government has asked the collectors of the affected districts to shift the people in the risky areas to relief camps.
Current flood-like situation in the state has come before the effects of floods 2018 were fading away. In August last year, Kerala had witnessed massive floods, which claimed lives of more than 400 people. Total loss due to the floods 2018 was estimated at Rs 40,000 crore and rebuilding operations are ongoing in the state.
While the heavy rainfall continues in the North, central and coastal Karnataka – which include districts Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Uduppi, Kodagu, Shivamogga and Chikkamangaluru. In a message issued to Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada on Thursday, the IMD predicted moderate to heavy spells of rain in Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Belagavi, Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu, Hassan and Mysuru.
According to Uttara Kannada Deputy Commissioner Harish Kumar, around 8,000 people were evacuated to camps and an equal number of people were shifted to their relatives’ homes in high areas.
“We are releasing water from various dams. Apart from this belt, the rest of the district is under control and normal. There has been heavy rain over the past two days in the catchment area of Kadra river and we are monitoring the level of Kadra dam, which is the last dam around 30 km away from the Arabian sea. The people living in this 30 km stretch have been evacuated. Downstream of Kadra damn is under control. Because we have taken preventive measures there has been no loss of life,” Harish Kumar said.
On Wednesday, a joint rescue team of Fire and Emergency, SDRF, NDRF and army evacuated around 41,000 people.
Sixteen deaths in rain and flood-related incidents have been reported from western Maharashtra in the last seven days, while the toll in Karnataka rose to five since Sunday and nearly 26,000 people have been evacuated.
Floodgates were opened in the dams in Maharashtra and barrages and reservoirs in Karnataka, where road and rail links remain hit by incessant monsoon rains.
Nearly 2.5 lakh people have been evacuated in Sangli, Kolhapur and Pune, Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said.
He warned people against travelling on the Mumbai-Bengaluru national highway.
Teams of the Territorial Army, the Navy and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are conducting rescue operations in Kolhapur and Sangli and six more NDRF teams will be airlifted to Kolhapur by Wednesday evening, he said.
"All the dams in the region are overflowing and the Met department has predicted continuous rains for the next three to four days. So, if the catchment areas of dams receive more rain, possibility of more floods cannot be ruled out," Mhaisekar added.
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Heavy downpour triggered by a deep depression, which crossed Odisha coast, battered several parts of the state creating a flood-like situation and disrupting train services in some areas in Southern region.
At least three wagons of a goods train derailed in Odisha's Ambadola station. Several trains in the Rayagada-Titlagarh section were cancelled or diverted due to heavy water logging and washing away of ballast of 100 metres of tracks, a railway official said.
Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) BP Sethi said torrential rainfall submerged vast areas in Malkangiri, Rayagada, Koraput, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Gajapati and Ganjam districts of Odisha.
The six districts have received more than 100 mm of average rainfall since Tuesday, the SRC said, adding that Kandhamal recorded average rainfall of 183.3 mm, while Rayagada got 163.4 mm, Malkangiri 129.3 mm, Koraput 113.9 mm, Kalahandi 109.4 mm and Ganjam received 104.6 mm rainfall.
Heavy rains in Andhra Pradesh resulted in increase in water levels in major rivers of the state on Wednesday, with the threat of flood looming in Vamsadhara river in far-off Srikakulam district.
Water level at Gotta Barrage on Vamsadhara touched 91,054 cusecs on Wednesday evening, prompting authorities to issue a second warning signal.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reviewed the flood situation at a meeting in Mumbai. He told reporters later that the state received 104 pc of average rain during June-August period, most of it in western Maharashtra and Konkan.
"342 bridges have gone underwater and are closed for vehicles. Twenty-nine state highways and 56 roads have also been shut. NH 4 and Kolhapur-Ratnagiri highway (part of Mumbai-Goa highway) are closed," a state official said.
The Met department has issued a warning of "very heavy rainfall" at a few places in five districts of Chhattisgarh, including Raipur.
The department on August 7 evening also predicted "heavy rains" in the next 24 hours in five districts of Bastar division where incessant rains have sent major rivers in spate, disrupting normal life.
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(With inputs from PTI)