Kerala floods toll 55, over 1.5 lakh shifted to relief camps

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 10 (IANS) The Kerala floods death toll has reached 55 and over 1.5 lakh people shifted to around 1,300 camps across the rain-battered state, the Meteorological Department has predicted more rains in the coming days.
The maximum deaths – 15 – were reported from Wayanad, while Malappuram, Palakkad, Idukki, Kozhikode were other worse-hit districts, officials said here on Saturday. A red alert for Sunday has been issued in Kasargode, Kannur and Wayanad. More rain is predicted in a few other districts.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday took stock of the situation. Officials informed him that the maximum number of relief camps had been set up in Kozhikode, followed by Wayanad.
Vijayan had earlier said 80 landslides had been reported from eight worst-hit districts. “Authorities are yet to ascertain the actual number of missing in the landslides at Meppadi in Wayanad district and Kavalapara in Malappuram district.
According to unconfirmed reports, 41 were missing in Kavalapara, he added.
Stating that no aerial survey could be conducted due to inclement weather, he said as soon as the weather cleared ups the aerial survey could be carried out.
The Chief Minister said despite heavy rains, water level had increased only three dams and continued to be low in Idukki and Pathanamthitta.
Floodgates of the Banasura dam, which was overflowing, were opened as per the announcement and no damage was reported as those living downstream had been shifted to secure places.
He said all the government officials and departments engaged in relief works would be working on holidays as well. “Cell-phone towers on wheels are being set up in areas where communication has snapped,” said Vijayan.
The railways were working overtime to start trains’ operations and army’s help had been sought for inspection of bridges, he said.
Earlier in the day with rain subsiding in Ernakulam, water receded from the Cochin International Airport and air operations are likely to start on Sunday. But officials are keeping there fingers crossed as rain started again on Saturday afternoon.
Emirates Airlines on Saturday announced that it would operate additional flights from Thiruvananthapuram airport, following cancellation of flights at Cochin airport over the past few days.
Meanwhile, while former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is expected to arrive at Kozhikode on Sunday to proceed to Wayanad, his parliamentary constituency, senior BJP leader V. Muraleedharan said Kerala had no funds shortage as around Rs 1,400 crore provided to the state as part of the Rs 2,047 crore flood relief last year had remained unused.

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