Kerala rains: IMD issues red alert for entire state, Kochi airport shut

Kochi: Cochin International Airport has temporarily suspended flight operations for four days till August 18 (Saturday) citing rising trend of water inflow at the airport.

In a statement, the Kochi airport said, "Kochi Airport operations temporarily suspended till August 18 Saturday, 2 pm since the inflow of water is still on a raising trend. We are working hard to drain out the storm water. All are requested to cooperate."

The India Meteorological Department also issued a Red Alert in the entire state of Kerala on Wednesday.

Earlier, the airport authorities had said that all flight operations will remain suspended till 2 pm on Wednesday. However, hours later, it was decided that the airport would remain closed till Saturday.

The decision comes after shutters of two dams of the Idukki water reservoir were opened on Tuesday evening to release excess water.

Shutters of dams in Periyar river were also lifted that triggered to flooding in the area. The airport is situated near Periyar river bank.

The weather station near the Kochi airport recorded 11mm of rainfall on Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday morning, the weather office issued warning saying that heavy rain accompanied with gusty winds, speed reaching 60 kmph, is expected in most of the districts of Kerala.

Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued red alert (heavy to very heavy rainfall in most places) for Wayanad, Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasargode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Idukki and Ernakulam Districts till Thursday.

Several districts of the state including Idukki, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad and Malappuram continue to witness landslides and flood.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, "We're witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala. Almost all dams are opened. Most of our water treatment plants are submerged, motors are damaged. We're keeping all this in mind but our priority is to get drinking water to the people."

"All the officials are involved in the rescue and relief operations. The rain will continue for the next four days and we all need to be careful. The neighboring states have been helping us and we need their help in the future too," added the chief minister.

Several people have vacated their homes due to landslides and land slips. People living in the downstream have been shifted to relief camps.

Over 13,800 people have been provided shelter at 124 relief camps in the district. Low lying areas are inundated, officials said.

In Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Many parts of India affected by floods. My thoughts are with families of those who lost their lives in floods."

Terming the flood situation in Kerala following heavy rains as something never witnessed by the state since Independence, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday announced Rs 100 crore as an immediate central relief.

The minister, who made an aerial survey of badly affected areas in Idukki and Ernakulam districts, said the rains and floods had caused "massive damage" to the farm sector and infrastructures like roads and power.

On Tuesday night at 2.30 am, shutters of Mullaperiyar dam were opened after water levels rose. People living on the banks of Periyar river were shifted to before the gates were opened.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan earlier told that the devastation is worst since 1924. The government also decided to do away with annual 'Onam' celebrations being organised by the state and to utilise the amount for relief measures, he said.

According to reports, 43 people have died since August 8 after floods hit Kerala, and around 60,000 people have been displaced.
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