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Kannur

Kerala: Seven BJP/RSS workers sentenced to life for murder of CPI-M worker

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Twelve years after the brutal murder of a CPI(M) activist, a court near here sentenced seven BJP/RSS workers for life.
 
P. Pavithran, a CPI-M activist, who worked as a labourer, was attacked on November 6, 2007, when he was going out to buy milk early in the morning.
 
The incident occurred near his house at Ponniam near here and the deceased's son Vipin was a witness to the crime. While trying to escape from the attackers, a group of men stabbed Pavithran to death.
 
He died four days after he was admitted to a hospital.
 
The Thalassery Additional District Sessions Court judge P. N. Vinod on Wednesday, besides handing over a life term for the seven accused, also slapped a fine of Rs one lakh each on all the accused.
 
The accused include A. Prashanth, A.P. Vineesh, Lyju, Muthu, Anilkumar, Vijilesh and Mahesh.
 
IANS
 

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PM most anti-national, dividing nation: Rahul

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being the "most anti-national" and accused him of "dividing the nation".
 
Reacting to Modi's allegation of the Congress turning anti-national, Gandhi said his grand old party has an exceptional track record of fighting forces that attack the nation.
 
"Thousands of Congress workers have laid down their lives, fighting such forces. Today the most anti-national act is the act of Modi who is dividing the nation," said Gandhi as he kicked off his day-long campaign here in Kerala.
 
"Crippling the agricultural system, leading to farmers suicide is another anti-national act of Modi. Youths losing their jobs is also another anti-national act. Modi has failed in all these and it's time that he answers," he told the media here.
 
Gandhi said the three key issues ruling the 2019 Lok Sabha polls are the destruction of the Indian economy, personal corruption of Modi and the plight of the farmers.
 
"We are looking forward to forming the next government," said Gandhi when a few questions were posed to him as he was about to leave.
 
The Congress leader, taking them, returned to his seat, sporting a smile, and said: "How come the Prime Minister does not have the guts to face the Kerala, Odisha or the Delhi media?"
 
From Kannur, Gandhi will make a whirlwind visit to five assembly constituencies in the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, from where he is contesting the polls.
 
He is also fighting from his traditional Amethi Lok Sabha seat.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul to be on two-day whirlwind campaign in Kerala

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who arrives here on Monday night, will campaign across the state for two days, where he will also cover his constituency -- Wayanad -- on Wednesday.
 
Kerala goes to the polls on April 23 to elect 20 Lok Sabha members.
 
Releasing details of Gandhi's tour programme, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee on Friday said he will arrive here on the night of April 15.
 
The following morning, he travels to Pathanapuram in Kollam district to address a party rally in the constituency where Kodikunnil Suresh, a former Union Minister and the sitting member from the Mavelikera Lok Sabha constituency, is seeking re-election.
 
At 11.30 a.m. on Tuesday, Gandhi is scheduled to reach Pathanamthitta district -- where the famed Sabarimala temple is located -- to campaign for Anto Antony, who is seeking a hat-trick of victories from the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha constituency.
 
At 4 p.m., he will arrive in Alappuzha to campaign for Shanimol Usman, a former Mahila Congress Chairperson, from where he returns to the state capital to solicit votes for party candidate Shashi Tharoor.
 
Gandhi travels thereafter to Kannur in north Kerala, and the following day he will reach his constituency Wayanad.
 
His election campaign programme in Kerala concludes with a road show on Wednesday.
 
Of the total representation from Kerala in the outgoing Lok Sabha, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has 12 seats, while the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has eight. 
 
IANS
 

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Indian Naval Ship Sharda rescues five fishermen from the sea off Kannur

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Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sharda, based at Kochi, rescued five fishermen, who were floating in the sea after their fishing vessel FV Omkaram sank some 35 km north-west of Azhikkal port near Kannur on Monday.
 
The incident occurred at around 9:30 am when the ship was on patrol in the area, an official press release said.
 
"An alert lookout sighted a movement in the water, which turned out to be the five floating fishermen. The ship acted with alacrity and immediately altered course towards the survivors. It thereafter lowered its life boats and successfully rescued and brought on board all five fishermen within ten minutes of the initial sighting.
 
"Two of the fishermen had sustained minor injuries and were administered first aid by the ship’s medical tam. The ship thereafter headed for Kochi to disembark the survivors," the release said.
 
According to it, the rescued fishermen indicated that they had cast off from Cheruvathur in Kasargod at 4:00 am on Monday. They said ater started entering their 13-foot boat, which they were unable to control, and the heavy flooding ultimately caused the boat to sink. 
 
The fishermen had to remain afloat without any life saving devices from 6:30 am till the time they were rescued. They were out of mobile range and were unable to swim or to seek help from other boats. 
 
They said that they had removed their clothes to wave at the ship and had almost lost hope of being rescued. 
 
All the survivors -- Manoharan (56) (Boat Owner), Vasav (57), Chandran (60), Suresh (42), Surendran (49) -- belong to Kanjanghad, Kasargod. The survivors were provided food, water and fresh clothing by the ship’s crew. Efforts are on to inform their next of kin as well as Trikkaripur local coastal police station.
 
INS Sharda is an offshore patrol vessel of the Indian Navy and presently in its 26th year of commission. The ship is actively deployed for coastal surveillance and patrolling off Kerala and Lakshadweep islands and has also undertaken regular anti-piracy deployments in the Gulf of Aden.
 
The ship was earlier too involved in rescue of 21 fishermen during Cyclone Ockhi and was also used for distribution of relief material during Op Madad, which was launched by the Southern Naval Command, at the time of the Kerala floods. The ship is presently commanded by Commander R Anoop.
 
NNN
 

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IndiGo announces flights from Kannur to Doha and Kuwait

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo today announced flights from Kannur, the new international airport in Kerala, to Doha in Qatar and Kuwait.
 
A press release from the airline said it would also launch flights from Kannur to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Goa and Hubli.
 
Effective March 15, the airline will operate daily flights between Kannur and Doha and six-days-a-week service between Kannur and Kuwait, it said.
 
"These new flights are designed to cater to business and leisure travellers who are constantly on the lookout for new and affordable flying options. The introduction of these flights will further strengthen the airline’s operations and will provide connectivity between Kannur and other domestic and international destinations with all-inclusive fares starting from Rs. 1299, the release said.
 
Mr. William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to have the opportunity to fly out of the new airport in Kannur starting January 25th. We are also excited to announce our international flights connecting Kannur with Doha and Kuwait effective March 15, 2019. Kannur will be the fourth airport in Kerala that IndiGo is starting operations from, and, with the launch of these new international services, IndiGo now operates 66 daily non-stop flights between India and the Middle East. The launch of these new international services will provide increased convenience to customers based out of North Kerala and South Karnataka, through these new non-stop services to Gulf at affordable fares.”  
 
“IndiGo will continue to expand its network to meet the requirements of both business and leisure travellers wherever they demand it. IndiGo will continue to offer its customers on-time, courteous and hassle-free service, and an affordable flying experience always," he added.
 
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Kerala's fourth international airport commissioned at Kannur

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu commissioned the Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL) here on Sunday.
 
The first flight from the airport was flagged off by the chief guests at 10 a.m. It was an Air India Express flight with 180 passengers to Abu Dhabi. All passengers received a gift each from KIAL.
 
This is the fourth international airport in the state after the ones in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
 
Hundreds of people, including politicians, were present to witness a cultural programme ahead of the take off of the Abu Dhabi flight.
 
Two more flights were listed for the day. 
 
Flights that would operate from here includes those to the UAE, Oman and Qatar, besides domestic ones to Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Mumbai, among other destinations.
 
The KIAL is designed to serve more than 1.5 million international passengers annually.
 
It is expected to boost tourism in Kannur, Kasargode, Wayanad and increase trade and commerce in the handloom and spices sectors.
 
The airport would be able to handle 2,000 passengers at a time.
 
IANS
 

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SC should not pass orders that can't be implemented, conflict with faith: Amit Shah

Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Saturday said that the Supreme Court should not pass verdicts that conflict with the religious faith of the people and can't be implemented on the ground.
BJP chief Amit Shah speaking at the inauguration of the new BJP district office in Kannur, Kerala, on October 27, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
BJP chief Amit Shah speaking at the inauguration of the new BJP district office in Kannur, Kerala, on October 27, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Saturday said that the Supreme Court should not pass verdicts that conflict with the religious faith of the people and can't be implemented on the ground.
 
He also warned the Kerala government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to be ready to face the consequences of targeting Lord Ayyappa devotees. 
 
Targeting the CPI-M government for allegedly committing atrocities on workers of the BJP, the RSS, the NSS (Nair Service Society) and the devotees of Lord Ayyappa on the pretext of the SC judgement, Shah said there were scores of judgments including banning the practice of Jallikattu, use of loudspeakers in mosques, curbing the Dahi-Handi pyramid event in Maharashtra during Ganesh Chaturthi and others that could not be implemented on the ground. 
 
Shah was speaking at a public meeting in Kannur, Kerala. 
 
Referring to Article 14 (guaranteeing right to equality) and Articles 25 and 26 (guaranteeing right to practise and profess one's religion), Shah asked how could right to equality override other fundamental rights to practise one's religion. 
 
Attacking the Kerala Chief Minister for taking the cover of the Supreme Court judgement to unleash atrocities on the devotees of Lord Ayyappa, Shah said that the Communist government was attacking the Hindu temples and their traditions. 
 
Kerala police have arrested over 1,400 people across the state, registering 258 cases against 2,000 people for defying an order of the Supreme Court that had allowed women of all ages to visit the temple.
 
The Supreme Court had on September 28 overturned a centuries-old practice that barred women of menstrual age (10-50 years) from entering the hill temple, where celibate deity Lord Ayyappa is worshipped. 
 
On October 17, the temple opened at 5 p.m. for the monthly pujas which ended on October 22. Protesters ensured that no female in the 10-50 age group could make it to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
 
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If the state government does not stop attacking the devotees of Lord Ayyappa, then it should be "ready to face the wrath of the people" backed by the BJP, the RSS, the NSS and other outfits, he warned. 
 
He said that it was women who were resisting the entry of menstruating women in Lord Ayyappa Sabarimala temple. 
 
"It is the women who are at the forefront of the agitation that women in the age group of 10 to 50 years should not go to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala", Shah said. 
 
He named a number of temples across the country where women alone could enter. 
 
Defending the practice of prohibiting the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years in the Sabarimala temple, Shah said Hindus have reformed their practices, referring to permitting widow remarriage and curbing child marriage. 
 
He said that the Hindu faith has never undermined women and respected them as mother and goddess. 
 
Criticising Vijayan for not doing enough for the relief and rehabilitation of the people affected by floods, Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sanctioned a number of projects for Kerala, included setting up of an IIT, and a Super Specialty Hospital, but the state government failed to acquire land for these projects. 
 
Asking Vijayan to resign for his failures, Shah said that instead of committing atrocities on those opposing the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years into the Sabarimala temple, the Chief Minister should focus on the development of the state.
 
IANS
 

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First trial flight operations begin in Kannur airport

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The first trial flight operations began at the Kannur airport on Thursday which is slated to soon become Kerala's fourth international airport.
 
An Air India Express 737-800 flew in from the state capital and successfully completed its trial operations at the Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL).
 
Speaking to IANS, V. Thulasidas, Managing Director of the KIAL, said this was the first trial as per the guidelines of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
 
"As far as we are concerned, we are ready with all the mandatory tests. Once today's tests are done, tomorrow (Friday) we are getting another aircraft. Once the DGCA gives the license, then it's the role of the Airports Authority of India (AAI). We expect the tests to be completed by the end of this month," said Thulasidas, who is also a former chairman and managing director of Air India.
 
But he did not specify when the commercial operations would begin.
 
"Even though the trial flights have begun, during the time when floods ravaged several districts of the state in August, Naval aircraft engaged in rescue and relief operations had used this airport," added Thulasidas.
 
The Rs 1,892 crore airport is located at Mattanur and is spread over 2,000 acres of land.
 
With this, Kerala will be the only state in the country to have four international airports with the others at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
 
The first trial operation at the airport took place in February 2016 when an Indian Air Force aircraft landed and was received by then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
 
The airport will have parking bays for 14 Code E aircraft or 20 Code C aircraft and will be able to handle 2,000 passengers at a time. 
 
The KIAL is slated to serve more than 1.5 million international passengers annually.
 
This airport will start off with a runway of 3,050 metres and in another 18 months after it opens, it will see its runway length increase to 3,400 metres and eventually it will touch 4,000 metres.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood toll 368, over 58,000 rescued, red alert in 3 districts

The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and a red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
 
More rain hits Kerala's flooding devastation
 
 
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and a red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while giving the latest figures, told the media late on Saturday that the flood relief work is going on in full swing and things are slowly coming under control and more helicopters and personnel would be engaged in the rescue and relief operations on Sunday.
 
The 33 deaths reported during the day occurred in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts.
 
Rejecting a demand from the Congress-led opposition and Kerala BJP to hand over the rescue operations to the Army, he said: "In a rescue operation, the most important thing is that it should be done only by the local authorities who are well-versed with the locality, and the Army and other agencies' help is sought and a combined operation is done."
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Saturday afternoon forecast that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, are likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.
 
While more than 58,000 people were rescued in areas like Ernakulam, Chengannur, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur, there are still many more waiting to be rescued.
 
Vijayan said that the red alert has now been limited to Ernakulam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts only.
 
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
 
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in the affected areas.c
 
Earlier in the day, Vijayan told Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a review meeting in Kochi that the death toll since May 29 had climbed to 357 and over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps.
 
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas.
 
Vijayan in the morning told the media that the situation is "very serious and grave".
 
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of the calamity.
 
"There are many people waiting to be rescued in areas like Pandanad (near Chengannur) and I saw two bodies floating in the water. If there is any more delay in, things will take a turn for the worse. We are drinking rain water to keep us going...," said a resident of Pandanad.
 
On Saturday night, a 150-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team started rescue operations in and around affected areas of Chengannur.
 
Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan, who was spearheading the rescue operations in Paravur in Ernakulam district, said that he stood before a rescue boat team with folded hands and they obliged and rescued several people.
 
National award winning actor Salim Kumar, after remaining holed up in his house along with 45 others for three days, was finally rescued by a fishing boat on Saturday evening.
 
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Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
 
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
 
Alappuzha District Collector S. Suhas said since morning 150 boats including house boats have been engaged in rescuing people and "today (Saturday) we evacuated about 75 per cent of people who were waiting to be rescued".
 
"Around two lakhs people are now in various camps. This could well be the biggest rescue operation," Suhas said.
 
Journalist-turned-CPI-M legislator Veena George on Saturday turned critical "due to the way the government machinery in Pathanamthitta has been working".
 
"None has a clue of how many people have been rescued and how many are left to be rescued. There seems to be a disconnect in coordination of the operations," said George.
 
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting to return home.
 
However, a landslide near Nelliyampathy in Palakkad district has left around 1,000 people cut off from the mainland and the Army is working to clear the debris.
 
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff failed to report for the duty due to flooding.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
 
A special train will be back on the Kottayam sector on Sunday, after all services on this route were suspended for the past two days.
 
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad-Aluva highway were cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood death toll 357, 11 districts still on alert

The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 357 this monsoon season, as 22 more deaths were reported on Saturday and red alert continued in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
 
More rain hits Kerala's flooding devastation
 
 
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 357 this monsoon season, as 22 more deaths were reported on Saturday and red alert continued in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
 
The death toll due to torrential rains since August 9 -- the third spell during this year's monsoon in the southern state -- reached 194 with the casualties reported on Saturday in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Chengannur districts.
 
The India Meteorological Department forecast on Saturday afternoon that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, is likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and the neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.
 
Barring Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kasargode, the remaining 11 districts of Kerala continued to be on red alert following prediction of more rains.
 
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
 
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in affected areas.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi. In a memorandum submitted to the Centre, Vijayan said that the death toll in rain-related incidents since May 29 had climbed to 357. Over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps, he said.
 
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the affected areas.
 
Vijayan told the media here that the situation is "very serious and grave". 
 
"The death toll would have been higher, but for the work we did. Things are under control," said Vijayan, whose government was flayed by Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala for failing to take up rescue and relief work effectively.
 
Food Minister P. Thilothaman, camping at Chengannur, told the media: "The need of the hour is to provide food packets and drinking water to the people. About 15 small boats of the Navy are expected to join rescue and relief work. But, after dusk, no rescues are possible. Helicopters are also needed for faster evacuation."
 
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of calamity.
 
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Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
 
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
 
Alappuzha Superintendent of Police A.P. Surendran said: "Things are moving fast on Saturday. Helicopters and more boats have been pressed into service. We are confident we will be able to rescue more stranded people."
 
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting return to their homes.
 
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff faied to report for duty due to the flooding.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday, with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
 
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad highway though were cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
 
IANS
 

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PM announces Rs 500 crore assistance to flood-hit Kerala

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced Rs 500 crore financial assistance for flood-ravaged Kerala where hundreds of people have died, lakhs have been rendered homeless and property worth millions of rupees has been destroyed in one of the worst floods and torrential rain in recent history.
 
Kerala reels under worst floods in a century
 
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced Rs 500 crore financial assistance for flood-ravaged Kerala where hundreds of people have died, lakhs have been rendered homeless and property worth millions of rupees has been destroyed in one of the worst floods and torrential rain in recent history.
 
The Prime Minister, who flew from Delhi on Friday night, made an aerial assessment of the damage caused by the floods. However, the survey was done only in some of the affected areas due to bad weather.
 
Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have caused the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over three lakh people forced to move to some 2,000 relief camps.
 
The aerial survey of the massive loss and destruction triggered by the torrential rains was initially called off due to bad weather. 
 
Following the cancellation, Modi chaired a meeting with Governor P. Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other officials and witnessed a video presentation of the widespread destruction across the state. 
 
"The Prime Minister announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state. This is in addition to Rs 100 crore announced on August 12. He assured the state government that relief materials including foodgrains, medicines would be provided, as requested," an official statement said.
 
Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). 
 
Insurance companies were also directed to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families and beneficiaries under social security schemes. Directions have also been issued for early clearance of claims under the Fasal Bima Yojna for farmers. 
 
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The statement said villagers, whose houses have been destroyed in the floods, would be provided Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin houses on priority.
 
"The Prime Minister complimented the state government for the efforts made in meeting the challenges of the unprecedented situation. He observed that rescue of people who are still marooned remains the topmost priority," the statement said.
 
The disaster has triggered an unprecedented rescue and relief operation led by the Army, the Air Force and the Navy along with teams of National Disaster Response Force involving about 1,300 personnel and 435 boats. 
 
Thirty eight helicopters have been deployed, apart from 20 aircraft used for ferrying resources.
 
The Army has deployed 10 columns and 10 teams of Engineering Task Force (ETFs) involving around 790 personnel.
 
The Navy has provided 82 teams, the Coast Guard 42 along with two helicopters and two ships.
 
Five Companies of paramilitary troops have also been deployed for rescue and relief measures. 
 
Nearly, 7,000 persons have been rescued since August 9 and some 900 given medical assistance. 
 
IANS
 
 

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Kerala floods: Modi's aerial survey called off

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed aerial survey of the massive loss and destruction triggered by the torrential rains in Kerala was called off on Saturday due to bad weather, state government officials said.
 
Modi, who arrived in the state capital on Friday night, flew in to Kochi earlier in the morning.
 
The Prime Minister was to be accompanied in his survey by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran and other top state officials.
 
His visit comes at a time when the Congress-led opposition has been demanding immediate deployment of the Army since the state government has been unable to deal with the crisis.
 
Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have resulted in the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over 3 lakh others forced to move to some 2,000 relief camps.
 
Before returning to Delhi from Kochi, the Prime Minister will chair a meeting to discuss the situation.
 
Rains subsided on Saturday morning resulting in the water level in Idukki and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts coming down.
 
But on Friday night, air lifting could not take place in Chengannur as the incessant rains continued in the region.
 
IANS

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Kerala flood crisis: Death toll 174, red alert in 12 of 14 districts

 
Kerala reels under worst floods in a century
 
 
The death toll in rain-battered Kerala touched 174 on Friday as a red alert continued in 12 districts, with various agencies continuing the rescue operations after rains subsided to evacuate over 80,000 persons during the day.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media in the night that the situation arising out of unprecedented floods and subsequent havoc caused by turgid rivers and gushing waters in Kerala continues to be "grave".
 
He said that since August 8 -- when the rains began pounding the southern state -- as many as 3,14,391 persons have been lodged in 2,094 relief camps across Kerala.
 
"The worst affected districts include Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur," Vijayan said after a review meeting with state officials.
 
Hundreds of defence personnel, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, helped by more than 20 helicopters, mounted search and rescue operations. Fishermen along with their motorboats too joined the humanitarian efforts.
 
More helicopters were pressed into service on Friday to fly sorties for rescue and relief.
 
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sanctioned the extra choppers, as people marooned in Chengannur and Chalakudy could only be airlifted to safety.
 
Waters from the Periyar river and its tributaries kept many towns in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts submerged. The worst affected include Paravur, Kalady, Chalakudy, Perumbavoor and Muvatupuzha.
 
"We have no food. There are 150 persons waiting to be rescued," rued a group of people who sent a video clip to TV channels from Chalakudy.
 
Thousands of people are still perched on high-rise buildings waiting to be rescued and taken to relief camps. Over 50,000 people are lodged in the Ernakulam and Thrissur camps alone.
 
Intensity of rains, however, decreased in several districts since Friday morning, leading to decrease in water level in three big dams in Idukki district.
 
The red alert in Kasargode and Thiruvananthapuram districts was withdrawn on Friday though the warning continued in other 12 districts in Kerala.
 
"On Saturday, 25 big Army boats will be deployed for evacuation in Kalady, Chengannur and Thiruvalla. More helicopters will be used for rescue and relief. We are confident that by Saturday, we will be able to rescue all those awaiting help," the Chief Minister said.
 
In the morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the flood situation with Vijayan over phone. He was slated to arrive in the state in the evening and undertake an aerial survey of the affected areas on Saturday.
 
Vijayan pointed out that 40,000 policemen, 3,200 firefighters, 18 teams of the Army, 28 of Coast Guard, 39 of NDRF and 46 of Navy were engaged in rescue operations. As many as 82,442 persons were rescued on Friday, Vijayan said.
 
"The Centre has allowed the use of the Cochin naval airbase for commercial operations of small aircraft, as the Cochin International Airport has been closed due to flooding. Punjab, Maharashtra, and Telangana have said they will provide food packets while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has pledged Rs 10 crore and other help," Vijayan said.
 
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Waters in Idukki and Wayanad areas and certain areas of Pathanathitta had receded, he said.
 
"One big problem that rescue teams are facing is that some people are unwilling to move to the relief camps. This is not good for their safety," the Chief Minister added.
 
Many people, especially in Kuttanadu area, refused to move to the camps, Finance Minister Thomas Issac said. Rising waters though forced them to change their plan.
 
Idukki's senior revenue official M.P. Vinod said that with lesser rains, water level in various dams in Idukki had come down.
 
"The biggest problem is disruption in telecommunication facilities... We are unable to communicate freely. All relief camps are functioning well and none has any complaint. In Munnar, I am given to understand that the Army is restoring damaged roads. Another huge problem is spread of fake news, which has to be tackled," Vinod said.
 
Helicopters loaded with food packets took off from the state capital and dropped these in central districts.
 
Authorities in worst-affected districts took help of big lorries to navigate flooded roads to reach those marooned in small pockets.
 
Amid the grim scenario in the state, there was good news: A pregnant woman Sajitha Jabeel airlifted on Friday morning by a Navy rescue team from a waterlogged place near Aluva delivered a baby boy at the Kochi Naval Base hospital soon after she was admitted.
 
Meanwhile, authorities in Ernakulam faced problems as a camp set up at U.C. College at Aluva was overcrowded with over 8,000 people.
 
Aluva legislator Anwar Sadat said shortage of fuel was hampering rescue as only boats were being pressed into service.
 
"Things are very bad. Aluva is completely marooned. People have no food or water. Our only solace is the numerous fishermen who are rescuing us.
 
"But now even their families are asking them to return. More defence personnel are required to speed up the rescue and relief," Sadat said while pleading for help.
 
The central district of Pathanamthitta is also facing destruction as overflowing Pamba river has inundated several towns. Ranni, Kozhenchery continue to be completely submerged.
 
Hundreds of fishermen from coastal villages of Thiruvananthapuram arrived at Pathanamthitta and began rescue even as helicopters too began to airlift affected persons to safer places.
 
On Friday, Achenkovil river overflowed into Pandalam town. A boat overturned while carrying out the rescue work, but luckily all on board were saved.
 
The Met office forecast lesser rains in Kerala till Saturday, which should bring some relief to the embattled authorities.
 
Rescue operations are progressing well in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad. In the last two districts, over 20,000 camps have been set up.
 
Major national and state highways, as well as rail traffic, continued to be disrupted in various parts of the state though more government buses were operated from various depots on Friday.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended even as long- distance trains were diverted via Nagercoil route.
 
Long queues were witnessed in front of petrol stations across the state following reports of shortage of automobile fuel due to floods.
 
Leader of the Opposition and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media that even though one should not be finding faults with the state government, a lot needs to be done as thousands of people are still at risk.
 
"We do not know who is providing all these figures to the Chief Minister... there seems to be a lack of coordination as people are suffering in relief camps," he claimed.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood crisis: Death toll touches 114; armed forces mount massive rescue efforts

 
Worst flood in a century kills over 100 people in Kerala
 
 
With the death toll in the devastating floods rising to 114 in Kerala, and more than one lakh people living in relief camps across the state, the Centre on Thursday deployed all three wings of the armed forces in a massive rescue operation.
 
Torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have cut off vast swathes of land in the state. The Kochi International Airport has been shut till August 26 and Southern Railway and Kochi Metro have suspended their operations in parts of the state.
 
On Thursday, reports of 47 deaths came in mostly from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur and Pathanamthitta where rivers are in spate since August 8.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast till Saturday. "The Centre has sanctioned more men and material," Vijayan said after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Central leaders.
 
Thursday saw 10 more helicopters joining the existing fleet in the massive rescue operation while 40 additional teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and a team of marine commandos also arrived.
 
Kerala University has postponed all examinations for graduate courses. The state government has also rescheduled Onam vacation for government schools from August 17 to August 29.
 
"Today there are 52 different teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF. With additional teams coming, we feel rescue operations would be speeded up," Vijayan said.
 
Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala continued to be the worst affected in the last 24 hours as thousands of people are trapped in their homes in the towns of Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry.
 
Around 50 people from Pathanamthitta were airlifted on Thursday and brought to the state capital.
 
Meanwhile, fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
 
"We have requested more fishing boats and fishermen who have experience in operating the boats. They have all started arriving in the Pathanamthitta and Chengannur areas," the Chief Minister said.
 
Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift some marooned families have failed.
 
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur is being regulated since last night.
 
Rahul R. Nair, Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, said hundreds of people need help. "Shortage of boats is the biggest problem," said Nair.
 
"We have been stuck on the road for hours now and we are going to Chennai for the marriage of our cousin sister. The prospective bride is in the vehicle. We do not know how we will reach there," said an anxious relative of the bride.
 
Train operations between Ernakulam and Angamaly have also been stopped, but operations resumed through the Alappuzha sector to the state capital, while the Kottayam sector remains closed. Likewise, the train services resumed operations through the Nagercoil sector.
 
The current crisis took a turn for the worse when, in a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala were opened on Tuesday following incessant rains in the higher reaches of the ghats.
 
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The famed tourist destination of Munnar continued to be in a bad shape, an official said. The Sabarimala temple also remained cut off by the river Pamba. 
 
The hilly district of Wayanad, connected to Kannur and Kozhikode through a hill highway, has also been badly hit with the overflowing Banasura Sagar dam waters creating havoc. Several landslides were reported in the area.
 
In Wayanad alone, more than 20,000 people have been put up in relief camps, authorities said.
 
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Miniter Pinarayi Vijayan and asked the defence forces to speed up rescue and relief operations.
 
"Have asked Defence Ministry to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala," the Prime Minister said, according to a statement.
 
Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha chaired a meeting on the Prime Minister's instructions and asked the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF to mobilise additional manpower, boats and helicopters to scale up the relief measures in Kerala.
 
An official spokesperson said food packets and drinking water were rushed to the state.
 
A Navy spokesperson said the Southern Naval Command has suspended all routine training activities and shifted its focus to the highest state of readiness in the wake of the situation in Kerala.
 
The spokesperson said all available resources for rescue and relief efforts in Ernakulam and Trichur have been mobilised.
 
The heaviest rains and floods witnessed in the states since 1924 have caused massive destruction with damages to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 
 

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Thousands cry out for help in flood-hit Kerala

 
Kerala floods: Army builds 35-feet long bridge to rescue people
 
 
Thousands of flood-affected people in Kerala -- mostly in Pathanamthitta and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur -- have been stranded as rescuers battle heavy rains to reach out to them even as the death toll in the unprecedented floods rose to 88 on Thursday.
 
Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in the worst-hit southern district of Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift the marooned families have failed.
 
"My 90-year-old mother-in-law, sister-in-law who is a cancer patient, and other relatives are living in a precarious condition as water is rising not just outside their home near Thiruvalla but inside, too," a relative told IANS. 
 
"When we spoke to the authorities there, they said they are helpless as boats are not available," he said. 
 
CPI-M legislator from Chengannur Saji Cherian said: "Hundreds of people are eagerly waiting to be evacuated and the only way out is airlifting. Unless things move fast, this could turn out to be very serious."
 
TV channels in the state are showing live pictures of people crying for help. 
 
"We are standing on the terrace of our two-storied building near Chengannur and we are being told since last evening that we will be rescued soon. If help does not reach us in an hour's time, we may not be alive, as water level is rising menacingly" is how a family reacted on a TV channel on Thursday.
 
Similar scenes are being shown from Aluva and Chalakudy in central Kerala, after the dam waters from the Idukki district reached the Periyar river and its tributaries.
 
Rahul R. Nair, Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, said hundreds of people need help. "Shortage of boats is the biggest problem," said Nair.
 
The National Highway from Ernakulam to Thrissur is also choked as water has now flooded the main roads in many areas.
 
"We have been stuck on the road for hours now and we are going to Chennai for the marriage of our cousin sister. The prospective bride is in the vehicle. We do not know how we will reach there," said an anxious relative of the bride.
 
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said with time running out, the need of the hour is larger deployment of Army rescuers.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala faces unprecedented crisis as flood toll rises to 67, state-wide red alert issued

An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday, resulting in 28 more deaths and more destruction and forcing authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday, resulting in 28 more deaths and more destruction and forcing authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
With these deaths on Wednesday, including five of a family, the death toll since August 8 climbed to 67.
 
While a red alert was sounded in 11 of the 14 Kerala districts, including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam, by Wednesday afternoon, it was extended across the state by the evening hours.
 
The state government declared a holiday on Thursday in all educational institutions.
 
Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after water flooded the complex.
 
In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rain since late Tuesday. More rain has been forecast till Saturday.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people for generous contributions to battle the worst floods faced by Kerala in nearly a century.
 
Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Wednesday evening and was assured of all necessary help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised to send more forces to help the state.
 
The five family members died in Malappuram, crushed when their house collapsed. Three were reported missing, while one child was rescued.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge collapse. A 70-year-old woman was electrocuted near Pathanamthitta as her house was submerged.
 
Landslides claimed lives in Malappuram too. In Thiruvananthapuram district, a 70-year-old man died after the wall of his house collapsed.
 
Two landslides occurred in Idukki in late evening, killing five people. Four persons were reported missing in the landslips.
 
The situation in Pathanamthitta district, especially Ranni and its surroundings areas, appeared to be bleak since late Wednesday evening as, local CPI-M legislator Raju Abraham, said things were turning from bad to worse and he was receiving frantic calls from his contituents in Ranni.
 
"Many of them are now perched on terraces as houses up to first storey are flooded and water level is still rising. The biggest problem is no power supply in many flooded areas, with mobile phones running low on batteries," said Abraham.
 
Media offices were also flooded with video messages from affected families for help.
 
Pathanamthitta District Collector P.B. Nooh said that a rescue operation involving 28 boats was going on and another 23 boats have reached the affected areas.
 
Indian Air Force personnel used helicopters to airlift people to safety from some areas of Pathanamthitta district in the evening to the state capital.
 
More and more people poured into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts.
 
The Navy said that it had rescued more than 80 persons in Kerala. As part of its 'Operation Madad', the Southern Naval Command deployed 21 rescue and diving teams with Gemini boats for the purpose.
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rain which submerged several low-lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
Among those who had to be shifted from their homes were veteran Congress leader and former State party President V. M. Sudheeran and his wife. Actor turned BJP Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi's house in the city was also flooded.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding of the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the Pamba river was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Vijayan took the Independence Day salute amid rain here and urged everyone to contribute generously.
 
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its level crossed 140 feet. People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
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The Cochin International Airport was closed till Saturday afternoon as water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area. Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"We decided to take this step because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the water to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rain predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up. Then only flights will resume. As of now, we have decided to close down till 2 p.m. on August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, and the busiest.
 
Three new teams of Military Engineering Task Force arrived in the state capital in the night. A team of naval officials has already reached Alappuzha district for relief and rescue.
 
Other defence forces and disaster response teams already in the state for the past few days are busy in putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in the affected areas in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 75,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala faces unprecedented crisis: Flood toll rises to 58; state-wide red alert issued

An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday resulting in 19 more deaths and further destruction, forcing the authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday resulting in 19 more deaths and further destruction, forcing the authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
With reports of the fresh deaths, the death toll since August 8 climbed to 58. 
 
While a red alert was sounded in 11 of the 14 Kerala districts, including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam by Wednesday afternoon, it was extended across the state by the evening hours. 
 
Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after water flooded the complex.
 
In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rain since late Tuesday. More rain has been forecast till Saturday.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people for generous contributions to battle the worst floods faced by Kerala in nearly a century.
 
Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Wednesday evening and was assured of all necessary help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised to send more forces to help the state.
 
The deaths reported on Wednesday included those of five of a family in Malappuram who were crushed when their house collapsed. Three were reported missing, while one child was rescued.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge collapse. A 70-year-old woman was electrocuted near Pathanamthitta as her house was submerged. 
 
Landslides claimed lives in Malappuram too. In Thiruvananthapuram district, a 70-year-old man died after the wall of his house collapsed.
 
Two landslides occurred in Idukki in late evening, killing five people. Four persons were reported missing in the landslips.
 
More and more people are pouring into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts.
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rain which submerged several low-lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
Among those who had to be shifted from their homes were veteran Congress leader and former State party President V.M. Sudheeran and his wife. Actor turned BJP Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi's house in the city was also flooded.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding of the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the Pamba river was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Vijayan took the Independence Day salute amid rain here and urged everyone to contribute generously.
 
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its level crossed 140 feet. People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
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The Cochin International Airport was closed till Saturday afternoon as water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area. Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"We decided to take this step because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the water to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rain predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up. Then only flights will resume. As of now, we have decided to close down till 2 p.m. on August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, and the busiest.
 
Three new teams of Military Engineering Task Force were scheduled to arrive in the state capital in the evening. A team of naval officials has already reached Alappuzha district for relief and rescue.
 
Other defence forces and disaster response teams already in the state for the past few days are busy in putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in the affected areas in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts.
 
Indian Air Force personnel used helicopters to airlift scores of people to safety in water-logged Pathanamthitta district on Wednesday evening.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 50,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

Kerala faces unprecedented crisis as flood toll rises to 47; Cochin airport shut

Unceasing heavy rains battered Kerala on Wednesday, killing eight more people and taking the death toll to 47 since August 8, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to seek generous public contributions to battle the worst floods in nearly a century.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
Unceasing heavy rains battered Kerala on Wednesday, killing eight more people and taking the death toll to 47 since August 8, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to seek generous public contributions to battle the worst floods in nearly a century.
 
Of the 14 districts, as many as 11 including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam are on red alert, an official euphemism to mean that huge devastation was expected. The Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after flood waters entered the complex. 
 
Thrissur, Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts are on orange alert, asking the authorities and people to be prepared as there was a higher likelihood of bad weather.
 
Those reported dead on Wednesday included a couple in Malappuram who were crushed after their house crumbled. Their six-year-old child is missing.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge as it crashed. A 70-year-old woman near Pathanamthitta was electrocuted as her house was submerged. Landslides in Malappuram claimed lives too.
 
In a first, sluice gates of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rains since late Tuesday. More rains have been forecast till Saturday.
 
More and more people are pouring into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts. 
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rains, submerging several low lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding in the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the river Pamba was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Vijayan took the Independence Day salute despite rains here and urged everyone to contribute generously to overcome the challenge of the floods and its destruction. 
 
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The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its water level crossed 140 feet.
 
People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
The Cochin International Airport was on Wednesday closed till Saturday afternoon after water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area.
 
Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"Why we decided to take this step is because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the waters to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rains predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close down the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up the area. Then only flights will resume. As of now we have decided to close down the airport till 2 p.m. of August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, besides being the busiest. 
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction. Over 50,000 people are in relief camps and the damage to crops and properties is estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Heavy rains continue to lash Kerala, Cochin airport shut

Heavy rains again hit Kerala on Wednesday killing four more people and taking the death toll to 43 since August 8.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
Heavy rains again hit Kerala on Wednesday killing four more people and taking the death toll to 43 since August 8.
 
It has been raining heavily in several parts of the state since Tuesday evening. The authorities were forced to open 33 dams across Kerala.
 
Those reported dead on Wednesday were a couple in Malappuram who were crushed after their house crumbled. Their six-year-old child is missing.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge as it crashed. A 70-year-old woman in Ranni near Pathanamthitta was electrocuted as her house was submerged.
 
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
Following flooding in and around the Cochin International Airport, all flights were cancelled till 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
 
The Met has forecast more rains till Saturday. 
 
Authorities are maintaining a close vigil especially in Idukki district as the shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were also opened at 2.35 a.m. after its water-level crossed 140 feet.
 
People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
Leaves of all revenue department officials have been cancelled, authorities said.
 
Rains which started on August 8 are said to have caused the worst damage to Kerala since 1924. Over 50,000 people are in relief camps and the damages to crops and properties is estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Evacuation of 5,000 persons begins as water levels in Kerala dams rise

With increased water flow into the Idamalayar and Idukki dams in Kerala late Tuesday night due to incessant rains, authorities began to evacuate about 5,000 persons living in and around the two reservoirs, a police official said.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
With increased water flow into the Idamalayar and Idukki dams in Kerala late Tuesday night due to incessant rains, authorities began to evacuate about 5,000 persons living in and around the two reservoirs, a police official said.
 
He told the media that the decision was taken after heavy rains led to rise in Mullaperiyar dam water level.
 
"We have already asked people to move out, especially those living between Mullaperiyar and Idukki dams. The aged and the sick are being moved by government officials," the official added.
 
According to authorities, water level in Mullaperiyar dam was 138 feet on Tuesday night. If its shutters are opened, the water will flow to the Idukki dam, where water level stands at 2,397.42 feet.
 
Rains in Idukki yet again on Tuesday increased water inflow into the Idukki dam, forcing authorities in the night to open two of the five sluices shut down on Monday.
 
The Idukki dam was discharging 7.50 lakh litres of water per second, causing worry to authorities as more water in the Periyar river and its tributaries could lead to flooding of parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, as was seen in the past week.
 
Unprecedented rains and flooding -- the worst since 1924 -- have left at least 39 people dead and thousands in relief camps in Kerala. Many rued that they had lost virtually all their possessions after surging waters swept away their possessions.
 
Consequent to the heavy rains, 27 dams of the state had to open their shutters.
 
According to the state's preliminary estimates, the rains have caused loss of over Rs 8,000 crore in rain-affected districts.
 
For a second successive day, heavy rains lashed Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts on Tuesday, triggering fresh landslides and adding to the woes of the state.
 
Landslides were reported at two locations close to Thamarassery in Kozhikode, forcing authorities to restrict vehicular traffic between the northern districts of Kozhikode and Wayanad.
 
Similar reports came from Munnar, the famed hill station in Idukki district where the movement of vehicles on the main road from downtown Adimali has been limited to buses. Heavy rains have flooded the houses of those working in tea estates in Old Munnar town.
 
In Malappuram district, rains pushed up the water level in the Chaliyar river, forcing families living along its banks to shift to relief camps.
 
Wayanad, which has also been witnessing heavy rains, faced trouble again as the Banasurasagar Dam sluice gates were raised further.
 
Palakkad, which borders Tamil Nadu, also received more rains, aggravating the already flooded parts of the district. The situation worsened following the opening of the sluice gates of the Chulliyar Dam on Tuesday.
 
"I have lost whatever I had. I am a labourer and I am stuck at a relief camp. I went and saw my home... Water is still there, so I returned to the camp," said a man holed up in a camp in Palakkad.
 
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Parts of Kannur district bordering Wayanad, especially the hilly terrains, was battered by torrential downpour on Tuesday.
 
Officials said the situation remained grim in Kasargode district as some of the rivers were in spate.
 
In all the flood-affected districts, the authorities had been trying to send people back to their homes from the relief camps. But following the fresh rains, they have asked them to stay back for now.
 
Around 25,000 people in four districts are in relief camps. Power Minister M.M. Mani told the media here that the government was fully geared to help those who had been displaced.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that Kerala was passing through one of its worst times and urged the people to cooperate with the government in bringing relief to the suffering.
 
"Those who wish to contribute in kind should get in touch with the district authorities to find out what are the requirements," he said.
 
The Chief Minister also announced that state-sponsored Onam celebrations would be axed and the money meant for the festivities would be diverted for relief and rehabilitation. 
 
IANS
 

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Rains lash Kerala again as state copes with worst flooding in 94 years

 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
For a second successive day, heavy rains lashed Kerala's Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts on Tuesday, triggering fresh landslides and adding to the woes of a state battling the worst flooding in 94 years.
 
Landslides were reported at two locations close to Thamarassery in Kozhikode, forcing authorities to restrict vehicular traffic between the northern districts of Kozhikode and Wayanad.
 
Similar reports came from Munnar, the famed hill station in Idukki district where the movement of vehicles on the main road from downtown Adimali has been limited to buses. Heavy rains have flooded the houses of those working in tea estates in Old Munnar town.
 
In Malappuram district, rains pushed up the water level in the Chaliyar river, forcing families living along its banks to shift to relief camps.
 
Unprecedented rains and flooding -- the worst since 1924 -- have left at least 39 people dead and thousands in relief camps. Many moaned that they had lost virtually all their possessions after surging waters swept away whatever they possessed. 
 
Wayanad, which has also been witnessing heavy rains, faced trouble again as the Banasurasagar Dam sluice gates were raised further.
 
Palakkad, which borders Tamil Nadu, also received more rains, aggravating the already flooded parts of the district. The situation worsened following the opening of the sluice gates of the Chulliyar Dam on Tuesday.
 
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"I have lost whatever I had. I am a labourer and I am stuck at a relief camp. I went and saw my home... Water is still there, so I returned to the camp," said a man holed up in a camp in Palakkad.
 
Parts of Kannur district bordering Wayanad, especially the hilly terrains, was battered by torrential downpour on Tuesday.
 
Officials said the situation remained grim in Kasargode district as some of the rivers were in spate.
 
In all the flood-affected districts, the authorities had been trying to send people back to their homes from the relief camps. But following the fresh rains, they have asked them to stay back for now.
 
Around 25,000 people in four districts are in relief camps. Power Minister M.M. Mani told the media here that the government was fully geared to help those who had been displaced.
 
With rains showing no signs of stopping, the Idukki dam again saw its water level rising. It crossed the 2,397 feet mark. So was the water level at the Mullaperiyar Dam, where it crossed 136 feet mark.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that Kerala was passing through one of its worst times and urged the people to cooperate with the government in bringing relief to the suffering.
 
"Those who wish to contribute in kind should get in touch with the district authorities to find out what are the requirements," he said.
 
The Chief Minister also announced that state-sponsored Onam celebrations would be axed and the money meant for the festivities would be diverted for relief and rehabilitation. 
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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Kerala seeks Army help, flood toll is 24

The Kerala government on Thursday sought the Army's help as the death toll in the rain-related incidents rose to 24 with large-scale damage reported from various parts of the state.
 
Heavy rainfall wreaks havoc in Kerala's Kozhikode
 
 
The Kerala government on Thursday sought the Army's help as the death toll in the rain-related incidents rose to 24 with large-scale damage reported from various parts of the state.
 
A team of the Army's Military Engineering Group is set to arrive at Kozhikode and Ernakulam, officials said, adding that some Army officers from Kannur had already reached the flooded Wayanad.
 
The worst affected districts include Idukki, Malappuram, Palghat, Kozhikode, Wayanad and parts of Kannur. 
 
Following the opening of the Idamalayar dam gates, the flood water from the Periyar river entered the Cochin International Airport compound, forcing the authorities to temporarily shut operations in the afternoon. The airport reopened after the water receded at 3 p.m.
 
A Home Ministry statement said 22 persons died in overnight rains and landslides on August 8-9. Idukki alone accounted for 11 deaths.
 
Two Class 12 students who ventured out for fishing in the flooded waters near Kochi were also swept away. Their bodies were found, officials said.
 
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force have left Chennai for Kerala. An inter-ministerial Central team is visiting the flood-ravaged area and Army support is also being mobilized from Bengaluru, the statement said.
 
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Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said rains have caused extensive damage to life and property across the state. "The Centre has agreed to extend all help," he said.
 
Since more rains are forecast, as a matter of abundant caution, it has been decided to postpone the upcoming Nehru boat race on the Punnamada lake, he said.
 
"We call upon all to donate to the Chief Minister's Fund," Vijayan said.
 
Power Minister M.M. Mani, who is from Idukki, said the situation in the district was "pretty bad".
 
"The shutters of the Idamalyar dam were opened. We will open a shutter of the Idukki dam also," he said.
 
The capacity of the Idukki dam is 2,403 meters. At 12.30 p.m., when the water level crossed 2,399 meters after a gap of 26 years, one shutter of the dam was opened.
 
"At the moment everything is under control," said Idukki legislator Roshy Augustine.
 
The Malampuzha dam, which was opened a few days, sent out waters which have created havoc in certain areas of Palghat, which borders Tamil Nadu.
 
Water has entered houses in many low-lying areas of the district.
 
Earlier, Vijayan held an emergency meeting and appointed senior official P.H. Kurien to lead the rescue and relief operations.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala's 4th international airport at Kannur to open in September

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Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu on Saturday, following a meeting with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, announced the opening of the Kannur International Airport Ltd (KIAL) in September.
 
Vijayan had met Prabhu in the morning along with his team of officials to discuss the finalisation of the Rs 1,892 crore-airport located at Mattanur, near Kannur, fast nearing completion in 2,000 acres of land.
 
"I have asked the Chief Minister to see that he posts someone in Delhi to follow-up on things connected with the Kannur airport. 
 
"I have also asked my officials to see that everything goes forward and the airport can open in September," said Prabhu to the media in Delhi soon after the meeting.
 
With this, Kerala will be the only state in the country to have four international airports with the others at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
 
The Kerala government has 35 per cent stake in the project, 25 per cent is with public sector undertakings, 10 per cent with the Airports Authority of India and the remaining 30 per cent is with cooperatives, banks and individual shareholders.
 
The first trial operation took place in February 2016, when an Indian Air Force aircraft landed for the first time at the airport and was received by then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
 
Once completed the apron of the airport will have parking bays for 14 Code E aircraft or 20 Code C aircraft.
 
The airport will be able to handle at a time 2,000 passengers and it is anticipated that KIAL will serve more than 1.5 million international passengers annually, besides changing the face of north Kerala with tourism and business activities especially handloom, textiles and floriculture.
 
This airport will start off with a runway of 3,050 metres and in another 18 months after it opens, it will see its runway length increase to 3,400 metres and eventually it will touch 4,000 metres, making it one of the four biggest airports in the country, an official said.
 
NNN
 
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Man, son held in Kerala 'honour killing' case

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Kerala Police on Tuesday said the absconding father and brother of 20-year-old Neenu Chacko were arrested for the brutal murder of her 24-year-old husband Kevin Joseph.
 
Neenu's father Chacko John and her brother Shanu Chacko, the alleged masterminds of the crime, were arrested in Kannur and would be taken to Kottayam by police. Three persons were arrested late Monday night. 
 
Kevin's body bearing torture marks was found on Monday at a dam site near Kollam and the preliminary autopsy report suggested he could have been forcibly drowned.
 
Since Kevin belonged to a family of converted Christians whereas Neenu's father is a Christian and her mother a Muslim, Neenu's family was strongly opposed to the marriage which was registered on May 24. 
 
Fearing violence by her family, Kevin had dropped Neenu at a women's hostel in Kottayam and himself went to a relative's house. 
 
A group of persons forcibly whisked away Kevin early on Sunday. After Neenu failed to get his response to her repeated calls, she approached police at Kottayam but was shooed away on the pretext of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's visit that was to end late Sunday night.
 
A huge crowd gathered at the funeral of Kevin on Tuesday evening in his parish here, where Neenu paid her last respects to her husband of just five days.
 
Tempers ran high at the sombre event as people expressed anger against Vijayan and the police for its inaction.
 
Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala told the media in the state capital on Tuesday that police was the main culprit in the murder case.
 
"It has now come to light that the killers of Kevin had good relations with police. Vijayan has turned out to be an abject failure as police functioning has gone haywire. Vijayan cannot wash his hands of the matter as he is equally responsible too," the Congress leader said.
 
IANS
 
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Kerala govt. says travel to state is safe, but four districts could be avoided

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The Kerala Government has issued an advisory saying that the few cases of infection by Nipah virus reported from Kozhikode district remained highly localised and that travel to any part of the state is safe.
 
Ten persons are reported to have died of the infection  in Kozhikode district.
 
"Travelling to any part of Kerala is safe," the advisory from Mr. Rajeev Sadanandan, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, said. 
 
However, if travellers wish to be extra cautious, they may avoid the districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kannur, he said.
 
The advisory said all the cases were linked to one family. It said surveillance by the Government is being conducted in the four districts.
 
"The Health Department is taking effective steps for management of reported cases and surveillance through tracing of the contract of these persons. The situation remains under control," it added.
 
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