Kerala rains leave 20 dead, Nehru boat race postponed

Kerala rains leave 20 dead, Nehru boat race postponed

Kerala rains leave 20 dead, Nehru boat race postponed

Thiruvananthapuram: The toll in rain-related deaths in Kerala touched 20 on Thursday as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan postponed Saturday’s annual Nehru boat race in Alappuzha in view of heavy showers forecast.

Speaking to the media here, Vijayan said rains have caused extensive damage to life and properties across the state. “We have sought six additional teams of National Disaster Response Force,” he added.

“As we speak, the trial run of opening one shutter of the Idukki dam might have taken place,” he said.

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As a precaution, the Cochin International Airport Limited has informed that till 2.30 p.m. all incoming flights will be diverted to other destinations, while there will be no problem for outgoing flights.

Vijayan said the deaths includes 11 from Idukki, six from Malappuram, two in Kozhikode and one from Wayanad.

“Since more rains are forecast, as a matter of abundant caution, it has been decided to postpone the upcoming Nehru boat race on the Punnamada lake. The new dates will be announced by the organisers,” said Vijayan.

He pointed out that the central team that has arrived to assess the damages caused in the earlier rains have agreed to provide all help.

“Since this episode has led to widespread loss and destruction, the requirement of money is there and we call upon all who are willing to donate. They can do it to the Chief Minister’s Fund,” Vijayan said.

Earlier State Power Minister M.M. Mani, who hails from Idukki, said: “Things are pretty bad and I have visited the affected areas on Thursday morning.

“The shutters of the Idamalayar dam was opened. We will open one shutter of the Idukki dam also…”

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At 12.30 p.m., after a gap of 26 years, one shutter of the Idukki dam was opened as part of a trial run and to assess the flow of water. The shutters will be closed after four hours.

Earlier Vijayan held an emergency meeting here to assess the situation and appointed senior official P.H. Kurian to lead the rescue and relief operations.

A special monitoring cell has been opened in the state secretariat and all the 14 district collectors have been directed to open one each as well.

IANS