Operations at the international airport in Cochin on Wednesday were suspended till Saturday as Kerala sounded a red alert in 12 out 14 districts following heavy rainfall and flooding after the shutters of more than 30 dams were lifted.
This is the first time the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) is being closed for four days after the area was flooded. Operations of international and domestic flights were earlier suspended till 2 pm on Wednesday but authorities decided to shut the airport till 2 pm on Saturday after reviewing the worsening situation.
“Operations were suspended after water reached the runaway in the early hours of Wednesday. Most of the incoming flights are diverted to Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikkode airports,” CIAL director ACK Nair said.
The airport is situated near the banks of the swollen Periyar river and water from most of the dams in the upper reaches of Idukki is flowing into the river that later merges with the Arabia Sea. Shutters of Idamlayar, Idukki, and Mullaperiyar dams were opened on Tuesday night to release excess water from the reservoirs. Sluice gates of 33 dams have now been opened across the state.
The arrival operations were suspended for two hours on August 9 in the view of possible inundation in the airport area.
All Air India express flights from Cochin will operate from Thiruvananthapuram, a spokesman of the national carrier said.
Train services were disrupted at many places and rail service between Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari was suspended after main bridges were swept away in the gushing waters. Railway officials said all trains in the state will run at a speed of 30kmph to avoid accidents.
Kerala sought more relief and help from the Indian Army and National Disaster Response Force(NDRF) as the death toll in the worst natural disaster in the state rose to 40. Five people, three in Idukki and one each in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts, have been missing since Tuesday night and many other marooned have been saved by rescuers.
Many areas were marooned and landslides reported in Kannur, Wayanad and Kozhikode districts. The state government asked visitors to avoid hilly areas as the popular hill station of Munnar was cut off from the rest of Kerala.
The weather department has issued a red alert for Wayanad, Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasaragod, Malappuram, Palakkad, Idukki and Ernakulam districts till Thursday. The worst-affected Idukki and Wayanad districts received 80mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours, a spokesperson of the regional office of the meteorological department said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned the flood-hit state of Kerala in his address to the nation on the 72nd Independence Day.
“Many parts of the nation witnessed a good monsoon but at the same time parts of India have been affected by flooding. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives due to floods in various parts of India,” Modi said.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state was going through the worst phase but good work by soldiers and NDRF personnel have helped save many lives.
“The state has shown the world that it can overcome the worst situations through commitment and hard work,” the chief minister said in his Independence Day speech.
The water level in the Mullaperiyar dam touches 142 feet.
Around 4,000 families moved to safer places last night in preparation for the release of waters from Mullaiperiyar dam.
As many as five persons have lost their lives, flight operations to and from Cochin International Airport have been disrupted and nearly 10,000 families have been forced to move to safer places following a fresh bout of rains across Kerala during the last 24 hours.
Around 4,000 families were moved to safer places last night in preparation for the release of waters from Mullaiperiyar dam. Water is being let off from the dam through all its 13 shutters at the rate of 2200 cusecs a second. From the Cheruthoni dam, water is now being released at the rate of 8.5 lakh liters a second.
Schools and colleges closed
District Collector Amit Meena declared a holiday for all educational institutions in Malappuram, including professional colleges, on Thursday. In Ernakulam too, a holiday has been declared for all educational institutions including professional colleges on August 16 and 17.
Meanwhile, in Palakkad district, the administration has lodged a police complaint against a set of unidentified WhatsApp users who spread false information that the Collector had declared holidays for all educational institutions in the district on Thursday and Friday keeping in view the existing flood situation.
The false message circulated widely had said the continuing holidays for two days would help children recover from the trauma and depression caused by the incessant rains.
How to donate towards Kerala flood relief efforts:
Chief Ministers Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) accepts voluntary contributions from Individuals, Organizations, Trusts, Companies, and Institutions, etc. All contributions towards CMDRF are exempt from Income Tax under section 80(G).
Donations now accepted through UPI mobile app like BHIM, paytm, Tez, Phonepe also.
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For Bank Counter Payment
Beneficiary Name: Principal Secretary (Fin), Treasurer CMDRF
Bank Name: State Bank of India (SBI)
Account Number: 67319948232
Branch: City Branch, Thiruvananthapuram
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