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Kerala rains leave 24 dead, Cochin airport reopens

The death toll in rain-related incidents over the last 24 hours in Kerala reached 24 on Thursday as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan postponed Saturday's annual Nehru boat race in Alappuzha following forecast of more rains.
 
Heavy rainfall wreaks havoc in Kerala's Kozhikode
 
 
The death toll in rain-related incidents over the last 24 hours in Kerala reached 24 on Thursday as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan postponed Saturday's annual Nehru boat race in Alappuzha following forecast of more rains.
 
Following the opening of the Idamalayar dam, the waters flooded the Periyar river and reached the compound of the Cochin international airport, which was sbut for all arrivals in the afternoon. But after the waters receded at 3 p.m., the airport was reopened.
 
On the night of August 8-9, 22 persons died in various districts of Kerala due to heavy rains and landslides, said a Home Ministry statement. 
 
The deaths included 11 in Idukki, five in Malapuram, three in Wayanad, two each in Kannur and Ernakulam one in Kozhikode. 
 
Two Class 12 students who ventured out for fishing in the flooded waters near Kochi were swept away. Their bodies were found later.
 
Four teams of of the National Disaster Response Force left from Chennai to Kerala. An inter-ministerial Central team is visiting the flood-ravaged area and Army support is being mobilized from Bengaluru, the statement said.
 
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Earlier, Vijayan said the rains had caused extensive damage to life and property across the state. 
 
"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. The new dates will be announced by the organisers," he said.
 
He said the Central team had agreed to provide all help.
 
"Since heavy rains have led to widespread loss and destruction, we call upon all to donate to the Chief Minister's Fund," Vijayan said.
 
Earlier, 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," Mani said.
 
At 12.30 p.m., after a gap of 26 years, one shutter of the Idukki dam was opened as part of a trial run and to assess the water flow. It would be kept open for the night. If the water level does not fall, the other shutters also might be opened on Friday morning.
 
Earlier, Vijayan held an emergency meeting and appointed senior official P.H. Kurian to lead the rescue and relief operations.
 
A special monitoring cell has been opened in the state Secretariat and all the 14 district collectors have been directed to open one monitoring centre in each district.
 
The Southern Naval Command has sent four diving teams and a Sea King helicopter while another aircraft is flying out the NDRF members from Kozhikode to Wayanad to evacuate the stranded people.
 
IANS
 

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15 dead as heavy rains lash Kerala; Idukki worst-affected district

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Fifteen people were killed in rain-related incidents as heavy showers lashed Kerala, authorities said on Thursday.
 
Idukki district remained the worst affected with 10 deaths, of which five from one family lost their lives after their house caved in due to a mudslide.
 
The other five victims were from Malappuram district who were washed away by the waters of the Chaliyar river that has increased to its highest levels since 1994.
 
State Power Minister M.M. Mani, who hails from Idukki, said: "Things are pretty bad and I have visited the affected areas and on Thursday morning, the shutters of the Idamalyar dam was opened. We will open one shutter of the Idukki dam also..."
 
The Idukki dam's shutter was last opened in 1992.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held an emergency meeting here to assess the situation.
 
IANS
 

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

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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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Nipah fever under control in Kerala, no cause for panic: Nadda

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Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare JP Nadda today said the Nipah fever at Perambra, Kerala, appears to be a localised occurrence and urged the people not to believe in rumours posted on social media and spread panic.
 
Mr Nadda is closely monitoring the situation arising out of reported cases and deaths due to Nipah Virus in Kerala. He reviewed the situation with Secretary (HFW) Preeti Sudan and DG (ICMR) Dr Balram Bhargava and has directed for all support to be extended to Kerala in its prevention and management, an official press release said.
 
Following directions of the Minister, a multi-disciplinary Central team from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is at present in Kerala constantly reviewing the situation. The Central team includes Dr Sujeet K Singh, Director, NCDC; Dr S K Jain, Head Epidemiology, NCDC; Dr P Ravindran, Director, Emergency Medical Relief (EMR); Dr Naveen Gupta, Head Zoonosis, NCDC; Dr Ashutosh Biswas, Prof Internal Medicine, AIIMS; Dr Deepak Bhattacharya, Pulmonologist, Safdarjung Hospital, along with two clinicians and one expert from Ministry of Animal Husbandry.
 
The NCDC team visited the house in Perambra from where the initial death was reported.  The team found many bats housed in the well from where the family was drawing water.  Some bats have been caught and have been sent for lab examination to confirm whether they are the cause of the disease.
 
Some 60 different samples have been collected from the spot and sent for examination. There are two confirmed cases with history of contact with the index case. They were admitted in the Calicut Medical College Hospital and died due to fever caused by the Nipah virus.
 
The Ministry has mobilized a public health team from NCDC Branch Kozhikode to assess the extent of problem, for risk assessment and risk management.  They are assisting the State Level Team already deployed at the epicentre.  So far, seven patients have been admitted in Baby Memorial Hospital and in the Government Medical College at Kozhikode and at the Amrutha Medical College, Ernakulum.
 
The field team has advised hospitals to follow intracranial pressure (ICP) guidelines, use personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and sample collection; assist in enhancing active fever surveillance in the community; strengthen contact tracing in close contacts of cases, relatives, health care workers; ensure isolation facilities, ventilator support and hospital infection control practices; and coordinate with animal sector and enhance surveillance for unusual illness and deaths in animals.
 
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The Ministry has ensured availability of diagnostic kits, personal protective equipment and risk communication materials. High quality personal protection equipment has been provided to health care personnel.
 
A total of nine individuals are currently under treatment. Isolation wards have been opened in many hospitals in Kozhikode. Hospitals in public and private sector have been provided with personal protective equipment. Appropriate steps to contain this virus have been taken among domestic animals such as pigs.
 
"Since all the contacts are under observation and steps to avoid exposure through animal vectors have been taken there is no reason for people to panic. This appears to be a localised occurrence," the release said.
 
With early and efficient containment measures undertaken jointly by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Government of Kerala, the outbreak is unlikely to spread. The Virus Research Diagnostic Laboratory at Manipal Hospital and the National Institute of Virology, a premier institute for research in virology, are geared up to meet any diagnostic challenges that may arise, the release added.
 
NNN
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Nipah virus claims 10 lives in Kerala, two serious

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The toll due to the Nipah virus, presently identified in Kerala's Kozhikode and Malappuram, rose to 10 on Tuesday even as the Central and state governments scrambled to contain its outbreak.
 
State Health Minister K.K. Shailaja, who is now based at Kozhikode and shuttling to Malappuram, told the media that till Tuesday, 18 samples have been sent for investigation.
 
"Of these, 12 have been identified - of which 10 sufferers have died and two are serious. The medical professionals are doing their best, even as two patients with this virus passed away today (Tuesday) morning," said Shailaja and added that 11 in Kozhikode are under observation.
 
The virus first claimed the lives of two brothers and their aunt in Perambara near here.
 
Even though Nipah virus, spread by direct contact with infected fruit bats, pigs or from other infected persons, infects both animals and humans, Central Animal Husbandary Commissioner S.P. Suresh, who is part of the Central team here, said that after their examination of animals in the affected areas, no incidence of virus in animals has been identified and instead it is the humans that have been affected.
 
"No domesticated animals so far have been affected. Other aspects should be now probed as this has been now found in only human beings," he said.
 
National Centre for Disease Control Director Sujeet K.Singh, who is also part of the Central team, told the media that all technical assistance and support is being extended by to the state.
 
"With regards to the financial assistance, that is not decided by me. The second team of ours is reaching here tomorrow (on Wednesday) and things are well under control," he said. A team of medical professionals from AIIMS Delhi is expected to arrive here on Wednesday.
 
Meanwhile Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said that he welcomed all those medical professionals who are willing to come to the state to take part in controlling this virus.
 
"There was a request from one doctor - Kafeel Khan from Uttar Pradesh - that he wish to serve the people who are suffering in Kozhikode. I wish to state that all professionals with a mind to serve the sufferings are more than welcome and they can get in touch with the Health Department here who will make the necessary arrangements," he said.
 
Meanwhile, the tourism industry represented by the Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry (CKTI) led by E.M.Najeeb, in a statement issued here, said they wish to convey to all that the concern now projected was larger than the reality.
 
"All the tourist locations and the state in general are safe as usual for holiday activities. Tourism industry partners in the state are more vigilant and equipped to provide a hassle-free holiday to the visiting travellers. The airports, railway stations, hotels and places of visit all are following the right protocols and are free of problems as usual," he said.
 
IANS
 
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Northern Kerala being promoted as major tourist attraction

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Are Kovalam and backwaters the first things that come to mind when thinking of Kerala? All that's set to change as more places will soon be added to the bucket list from 'God's Own Country' -- at an outlay of Rs 500 crore.
 
The Kerala Tourism Department is taking new initiatives and expanding its horizons, not just in the southern belt but also the northern zone with new "must visit" destinations.
 
"Kerala has seen a strong tourism sector since two decades and we have been doing well domestically and internationally. 
 
"We are starting new destinations in different geographical areas. We are widening our canvas and including new destinations," P. Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism told IANS.
 
He added that the northern parts of the state like Wayanad, Kannur, Kozhikode, Thissur, Malapuram and Palakad are on the list of new tourism destinations.
 
"This will be a separate circuit which will be complementing the existing tourism circuit in south Kerala," Kiran stated.
 
While the peak season for visiting the state is mainly November to February, the Tourism Department is also chalking out plans to attract tourists round the year.
 
And for that, the department has pumped in almost Rs 500 crore in the area for tourism and infrastructure development.
 
"We are also planning out new ventures like introducing river cruise facility in Malabar, making a Kameshwari heritage project, Jatayu Earth Centre which will feature world's largest bird sculpture and offering plethora of adventure and rejuvenating activities and others," Bala noted.
 
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The department is also focusing on alluring young tourists by offering multiple adventure activities -- water-based sports like river rafting and kayaking as also trekking, paragliding.
 
Recently, Kerala also bagged 'Best destination for families' award through an online poll which was conducted by Lonely Planet magazine.
 
Bala added in the past one year, Kerala has witnessed tremendous growth in tourist arrivals -- both domestic and internatinal.
 
"In 2017 we had 1.09 million international tourists and 14.6 million domestic tourists which is roughly translating into a growth of 11 per cent in the last year," he added.
 
Asked about the major challenges being faced by the Tourism Department, Bala pointed out that ensuring safety and security of tourists were the first priority followed by providing world class amenities to the visitors and streamlining the waste management system.
 
"Kerala government is setting up a Tourism Regulatory Authority which will be a statutory body with full legal powers to intervene and execute orders whenever there are complaints on tourist-related activities," Bala noted.
 
IANS
 
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