Red alert declared in five districts of Kerala, ten dead and two missing after heavy monsoon rainfall

Heavy rain continued to pound many areas of Kerala, forcing the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday to exten a red alert in five districts till July 25 as death toll in the past four days rose to ten.

The IMD regional centre said Kasarkkode, Kannur, Kozhikkode, Wayanad and Idukki districts are likely to get 204 mm rain in the next three days.

Four deaths were reported on Sunday. Reports of drowning came from Kottayam, Kasarkkode and Ernakulam districts, police said. Four others were missing after the monsoon intensified in the state three days ago.

Many people living in the coastal areas in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam were shifted to safer areas after the Arabian Sea turned rough, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority said.

An orange alert has been sounded in five districts- Kottayam, Ernakulam, Malappuram, Palakkad and Pathanamthitta till July 25 with 115 mm of rain predicted in these areas. The IMD has also warned fishermen not to venture into seas as waves can reach up to 10 metres in height.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has instructed district collectors and revenue officials to keep a strict vigil in view of incessant rains. While rain subsided a bit in south Kerala on Monday, it continued its fury in north and central Kerala, the Met office said.

Most of the rivers are in spate and reservoirs are swollen after three days of intense downpour in catchment areas of Idukki and Wayanad. Shutters of at least six reservoirs were opened to ease the pressure on dams.

Sluice gates of Pambha, Malankara and Boothathankettu reservoirs were opened after they filled up to the brim. Last year more than 400 people were killed and millions affected in Kerala’s worst monsoon flooding in a century. Experts had accused authorities of delaying opening the gates of reservoirs till the last minute which aggravated the flood situation.

Last year, rains were weak in initial stages but strengthened towards the first week of August. This year too the rain deficit was 47% in the initial two months of June and July as the monsoon played hide and seek before it intensified. The changing pattern of monsoon is worrisome as it affects crops and groundwater recharging, the Met office said. The latest spell of rain came when the state was struggling to rectify last year’s damage.

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