BENGALURU: Even as there has been a respite from incessant monsoon rains in Kerala, floods in the state have kept people on tenterhooks.
Total death reached 46, with around 1.45 lakh people displaced and moved to camps so far, the state disaster management cell said in a statement on Saturday evening. Nine dead bodies were recovered from the landslide site in Malappuram district's Kavalappara on Saturday. More than 50 people are still feared missing or dead.
In two days, eight districts in Kerala saw 80 landslides, he said. Connectivity has been disrupted, with relief camps also hit. As a result, the state plans to to airlift food supplies to remote interiors. Wayanad MP and Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi is expected to visit the district on Sunday.
Rainfall activity has reportedly eased in parts of the state, but Kochi airport will remain shut until Sunday.
In Wayanad and Malappuram—the most ravaged districts in the north of the state—flood waters are yet to recede.
Rescue and relief operations are underway across the state.
"The biggest landslides were in Malappuram district's Kavalappara-Bhoothanam colony and in Wayanad district's Meppadi Kuthumala. In Malappuram district, 200 families and some officials are stuck. There is no difficulty for getting food supplies now, but we are expecting trouble over the coming days because the connectivity to there is cut. We will need to airlift food using helicopters, we are trying it," said the CM.
Vijayan was talking to reporters in Thiruvanathapuram, televised through his social media page, after an urgent meeting of senior officials.
He said the state will remember public-run power utility Kerala State Electricity Board's assistant engineer Byju, who died while on duty on Friday.
Saturday is crucial for the state as it plans to open sluice gates of a major dam, Banasura Sagar, that will get more water to already heavily flooded Wayanad.
“In Wayanad, the rains have reduced. But the prediction is that it will intensify afternoon. 24990 families are in relief camps. Banasura Sagar dam shutters will be opened after 3pm. We will release water moderately, but people on both sides of the riverbank should be vigilant. Majority of the population living on the banks of where the water is expected to rise has been evacuated," said Vijayan.
It has been pouring in commercial hub Ernakulam as well.
Heavy rains have led to rising water level in river Pampa and flooding of Pathanamthitta district, that was ravaged in last year's floods - the worst in Kerela’s history.
In a positive, the water level in the state's major dams are below the half-way mark so far this year. Last year, water from major dams had to be discharged along with the heavy rains, which had to led to the deluge in the states. Banasura Sagar was opened at 4pm. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated in advance.
"Idukki dam has enough capacity to store more water. Last year it was 98.27% full on this day, now it is only 35%. Likewise, Pampa dam was 99% last year on this day, but is only 60.62% now. However, unlike last year, several other smaller dams like Kakki, Sholayar, Edamalayar are full and had to be opened this time," said Vijayan.
Meanwhile, a fresh landslide was reported in Malappuram's Kavalappara amidst the rescue operations. Another landslide was reported in Wayanad's Rannimala too.
Across the state, connectivity and power lines remain hit. An estimated 15 lakh power lines have been damaged. Private and public buses are largely keeping off the roads, and almost 20 trains were cancelled on Saturday.