Thiruvananthapuram: Dark images of the flood of August 2018 returned to haunt Keralites on Thursday and Friday as rivers were in spate, flood waters submerged hundreds of houses in multiple districts and nearly two dozen lives were lost over 24 hours in the state.
Three columns of soldiers from the Pangode military camp were deployed across Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Ernakulam districts, and for a second consecutive year the prestigious Nehru Trophy boat races in Alappuzha have been declared postponed.
The Cochin International Airport in Nedumbassery has been shut until Sunday, and rail traffic was seriously disrupted when tree branches fell on the tracks on the stretch between Alappuzha and Cherthala. Train traffic was mostly confined via Kottayam on Friday.
The biggest loss of lives is estimated to have happened at Puthumala near Meppady in Wayanad district where a massive landslide is feared to have led to dozens of deaths. The landslide wiped away some lodgings of plantation workers besides a mosque and a temple.
Seven bodies have been recovered from Puthumala, and rescue workers believe more bodies are lying under the heap of mud and rubble that came sliding down the hill late on Thursday evening.
The rain havoc has most severely affected the northern districts of the state, particularly Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts. At Sreekantapuram in Kannur, hundreds of houses have been marooned and flood waters have entered more than 300 shops. In some cases, the water reached the second storeys of houses.
In the resort town of Munnar in Idukki district, the Muthirapuzha river is in spate and its waters entered the lodgings of plantation workers on Friday.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan warned people that there was likelihood of very heavy rains for another 24 hours and cautioned people to be on high alert. On Friday, there was a red alert in nine districts, and educational institutions in 14 districts were closed.
In Mannarkad near Palakkad, a minor earthquake caused panic among local residents. Major dams in the state all have water levels that are only around one-third of capacity and there is no possibility of opening their shutters over the next few days, but water in many smaller dams are being released.
Vijayan said the chief guest for the Nehru Trophy boat race, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar had been told of the circumstance leading to the postponement of the race.