20 dead as rains lash Kerala, Kochi airport cancels arrivals

As many as 20 people have died in landslides, floods and other rain-related incidents in Kerala.

The Kochi airport has cancelled all arrivals indefinitely; water levels in the Periyar river close to it are expected to increase, after the Idukki dam released water around 12:30 pm today as part of a trial run.

The sluice gates of the dam are expected to remain open till 4:30 pm.

But things could get worse. If the water level rises to the red-alert mark even after the trial run, all shutters will be opened to flush out more water. This may happen in the next 24 hours, given the amount of rain the region is receiving.

If that comes to pass, water levels in the Periyar could rise even further.

When the Idukki dam was last opened in 1992, many low-lying areas near the Periyar’s banks were flooded. Keeping that in mind, the district administration has now evacuated residents of such areas.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters the situation was critical. He said his government had sought support of the Army, the Navy and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

“Three NDRF teams have reached various districts, 2 are on their way and we have called in an additional 6 teams as well. The shutters of 22 dams have been opened in the state, and more will be opened. This is an unprecedented situation,” Vijayan said.

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Updated: August 9, 2018 — 2:52 pm