BENGALURU/NEW DELHI/MUMBAI :
Heavy rains continued to lash parts of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra on Thursday, throwing normal life out of gear, and leaving several dead and property worth crores destroyed.
At least 28 people have lost their lives so far—13 in Maharashtra, nine in Karnataka and six in Kerala. Public transport services, including railways, stopped playing on several routes, after heavy downpour washed away roads, bridges and railway tracks, hampering rescue operations by state, central and defence personnel.
At least nine people drowned in Brahmanala village of Sangli district on Thursday afternoon when a boat rescuing them overturned. The boat with a capacity of 15 people was ferrying between 25-30.
Heavy rains, gusty winds and floods have wreaked havoc, especially in Kerala and Karnataka, which are yet to recover from last year’s floods that claimed hundreds of lives.
Around 43,858 people have been evacuated so far in Karnataka, the majority from the northern district of Belagavi. Over 85,000 people have been evacuated in Sangli and Kolhapur in Maharashtra and relocated in relief camps. Over 16,861 animals have been rescued and 2,611 homes have been damaged, according to data released by disaster management authorities in Karnataka.
With no cabinet in place, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa has formed three teams, comprising Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators and members of Parliament, to coordinate relief work in the three most affected regions—northern, coastal and Malnad—which continue to be on the edge after weather authorities issued a red alert.
In its latest forecast, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the deep depression associated with heavy rainfall has weakened and was on Thursday centered over north Chhattisgarh. It would continue to move west-northwestwards and weaken further during the next two days.
During 8-11 August, fairly widespread rainfall would continue over Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha, Konkan and Goa, Maharashtra, south interior Karnataka and Kerala. The Central Water Commission (CWC) also sounded a flood alert for Bellari and Koppal districts in Karnataka, Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Wayanad in Kerala, and some districts in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.
The water levels in the Krishna river have been steadily rising, forcing heavy and unregulated release of water which is causing more damage. CWC has called for a strict watch on all rivers in Thane, Raigad, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Pune and Nashik in Maharashtra.
There is a likelihood of urban flooding due to drainage congestion and water logging in Mumbai and its sub-urban areas. Parts of Bengaluru too were inundated after a heavy downpour on Thursday, exposing the vulnerability of India’s software capital and its crumbling infrastructure.
In neighbouring Kerala, it was no different, as the entire town of Nilambur in Malappuram district was submerged. Four districts in Malabar and central Kerala—Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram—were affected the most. Tourism hotspots were limping back to normalcy after last year’s floods. Aggravating the worries, thunderstorm, rain and gusty winds of 30-40kmph are likely to hit Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Kottayam, Thrissur, Kannur, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad districts on Friday, weather authorities said.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the situation was under control, but the state was preparing for any eventuality. He even asked his ministers to return to their respective home districts to coordinate rescue and relief efforts.
A heavy landslide washed away a site which locals say include a housing colony of tea estate labourers in Meppadi region of Wayanad, Kerala. Many are feared missing or dead. Regional news channels showed a temple, mosque and vehicles washed away in the landslide. The casualties are not yet known, and two units of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have reached the district, said state revenue minister E. Chandrasekaran.
The Cochin International Airport has suspended flight operations till Thursday midnight as a precautionary measure in view of the forecast of heavy rainfall.