Kerala’s dam safety authority plans to open sluice gates of many swollen dams to ease pressure on reservoirs following heavy rain over the past few days even as much of the state is reeling under a devastating flood, officials said Saturday.
Authorities sounded a high alert in Wayanad district ahead of opening the sluice gates of Banasurasagar dam, third largest dam in the state. More than one lakh people across the state including 20000 from Wayanad have been evacuated so far.
The release of water from dams could mean more trouble for the flood-hit state where the death toll in last four days crossed 40 while and more than 50 are feared trapped under mud and debris triggered by landslides.
There has been no respite from the rain and the metrological department has declared a red alert in seven districts. North Kerala’s Wayanad and Malappuram are worst affected. Some of the areas in Wayanad received 40 cm of rain in the last 24 hours, the
Met office said. Though Army personnel and National Disaster Response Force personnel were deployed in large numbers, rescue operations were hampered at many places due to bad weather.
Rail, road and air traffic were affected in many areas of the state. “The metrological department has declared red alert in 7 districts on Saturday and we are on full alert. We have asked all government servants to cancel their leaves and report to duty. We have set up control rooms in every district,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Wayanad and Malappuram have borne the maximum brunt so far - in Malappuram a major landslide came to light only on Friday, at least 14 hours after the mishap. Some of the escaped said at least 40 people were trapped in their flattened houses covered in mud and slush.
Nilambur MLA P V Anwar later confirmed many were trapped in Kavalapara after a portion of a hill caved in on a settlement. Three bodies were recovered from the spot but local residents said more than 40 people are trapped. Rescue operations were called off Friday evening after rain intensified threatening another landslip in the area.
A similar landslide was reported in Puthumala is Wayanad and local residents said many were feared trapped. The CM said 24 big and small landslides were reported in different parts of the state in last three days.