Rescue operation underway in flood-hit Kerala. Ashraf Padanna / Gulf Today
Ashraf Padanna, Correspondent
At least 35 people, including five children, have lost their lives in flash floods and landslides that battered the southern state of Kerala over the last two days.
Though the rains have subsided, the weathermen predict heavy showers for three more days from Wednesday due to the low pressure developing in the Arabian sea.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has sounded a yellow alert across 11 districts, indicating severely bad weather that could change for the worse.
The rivers continue to overflow due to release of water from dams, especially in Ernakulam district.
In the wake of flood and rain Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said an expert committee will take decision to open dams and that would be conveyed to District Collector who in turn will ensure that people living in vulnerable areas are evacuated to safety.
While chairing a meeting of high-level officials to discuss the ongoing flood situation, Vijayan said: "At the moment, 184 relief camps have been set up in which all essential items are there. Apart from the government departments which are helping, local community also can chip in."
Meanwhile, as the death toll reached 35, the Congress-led opposition on Monday accused the Pinarayi Vijayan government of not acting in time. However, the government quickly denied the charges.
Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan, who on Sunday visited the worst-affected areas in Idukki and Kottayam districts, raised questions as to why, despite the IMD warning, the state government failed to act.
"Wish to know why and what happened and it has now proved that the State government failed to act on warnings. We are told it took several hours for the team of the government officials to reach certain spots with men and material to do the rescue act. Something has gone wrong and we want answers," said Satheesan.
State Revenue Minister K. Rajan, however, said there has been no wrong on the part of the State government.
"We rely on the reports and act on the basis of the Centre and we have done just that. Strict action will be taken against those who misuse the social media when the state is passing through tough times," said Rajan.
The authorities have opened 247 relief camps accommodating 9,422 displaced people, including 1,764 children, from 2,619 families, an official statement said.
Shutters of Kakki dam in Pathanamthitta were opened as water levels rose sharply, releasing 950 cubic litres of water.
A red alert was issued on 10 more dams. Shutters of Idukki, Asia’s biggest arch dam, will be opened on Thursday.
Pilgrimage to the Sabarimala hill shrine was suspended due to a rise in water level in Pamba and other rivers.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has expressed his gratitude to the rulers of the UAE for their support and solidarity during last year’s devastating floods.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday wound up a four-day visit to his flood-ravaged Wayanad constituency and invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come and see the devastation.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muralidharan stated that there exists no ban on accepting foreign contributions towards Kerala flood relief. “Nobody has said not to accept foreign funds for flood relief”,
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