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Pathanamthitta

Bishop Chrysostom, Kerala's oldest man, celebrates 102nd birthday

Philipose Mar Chrysostom
Philipose Mar Chrysostom
Bishop Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the senior most metropolitan of the Thiruvalla-headquartered Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church and also Kerala's oldest man, celebrated his 102nd birthday on Saturday.
 
The Bishop, who was awarded the Padma Bhushan last year, was born in 1918. Although he has now retired, Chrysostom even now participates in services and moves around the church in a wheel chair.
 
He was ordained as a priest in 1944 and became a bishop in 1953 and went on to head the Church as its Metropolitan in 1999 before voluntarily stepping down as the head of the church in 2007.
 
On Saturday, numerous bishops from his Church and other denominations visited him and extended their greetings. 
 
To mark the occasion, Chrysostom cut a specially made 'appam' (type of traditional pancake made with rice flour).
 
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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P. C. George's Kerala Janapaksham Secular joins NDA

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Seven-time legislator P. C. George's Kerala Janapaksham Secular on Wednesday became the newest constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Kerala.
 
The announcement was made here by Kerala BJP President P. S. Sreedharan Pillai in the presence of BJP national Secretary Satya Kumar and George himself.
 
The 67-year-old George, who represents the Poonjar assembly constituency in Kottayam district, was a member of the erstwhile Kerala Congress, then Kerala Congress faction led by former State Minister P. J. Joseph, then moved base to the party of now deceased K. M. Mani before floating his own party.
 
In the 2016 assembly polls, George recorded his seventh electoral victory with a margin of over 27,000 votes, defeating candidates put up by the three political fronts in the state.
 
The first signs that George was moving base towards the NDA came last year, when he announced he would sit alongside the lone BJP legislator O. Rajagopal in the assembly to protest the manner in which the Kerala government allowed breaching of the traditions and culture of the famed Sabarimala temple after the apex court ruled that the temple should be opened to women of all age groups.
 
Speaking to IANS, George said the decision to join the NDA was a unanimous decision of his party and he was happy to see the election manifesto of the BJP, which has given consideration to the minority communities.
 
"I will be sharing the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at Kozhikode on Friday when he will be addressing the election rally. I am convinced that Modi can do a lot of good and hence decided to become an ally of NDA," said George and added that the BJP will spring a surprise in Kerala when votes in the Lok Sabha polls are counted on May 23. 
 
Parts of the Sabarimala temple town comes under George's assembly constituency and it remains to be seen if this is going to help the BJP candidate K. Surendran fighting from the Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha seat.
 
With George's party entering the NDA, its strength in the assembly goes to two, as other allies like Bharath Dharma Jana Sena, and the Kerala Congress faction led by P. C. Thomas and others do not have any representation.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala: 72 pilgrims arrested in Sabarimala last week get bail

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Seventy two pilgrims, who were arrested last week near the Sabarimala temple for defying prohibitory orders, got bail here on Wednesday.
 
While 69 of them were arrested on Sunday night from the temple premises, State BJP General Secretary K. Surendran and two others were arrested on Saturday night.
 
The Pathanamthitta Munsif court granted bail to the accused upon their furnishing two securities each, and ordered them not to enter the Ranni taluk. This means that none of them will be able to return to Sabarimala.
 
The Sabarimala temple doors opened on November 16 for a two-month pilgrimage season.
 
The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since September 28 when the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple that had hitherto banned girls and women aged between 10 and 50.
 
The apex court on November 13 refused to stay that verdict.
 
While the Kerala government is trying hard to see that the apex court verdict is implemented, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and several Hindu groups are up in arms against violation of the temple tradition.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala: 69 arrested Sabarimala pilgrims sent to judicial custody

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Sixty-nine pilgrims, who were arrested late Sunday night from Sabarimala temple after they defied prohibitory orders, were remanded to judicial custody by a court here on Monday.
 
All arrestees, who were kept at the Maniar Police Camp in Pathanamthitta district, were produced in the court that remanded them to 14-day judicial custody.
 
However, before taking them to the court, the police released one person who was below 18 years of age.
 
Consequent to Sunday's arrest, angry Hindu activists on Monday took to the streets, raised slogans and held prayer sessions in front of police stations across the state. Union Minister K. J. Alphons also criticised the state government for the action.
 
As the news about arrests spread in Thiruvanathapuram, protesters assembled near Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's residence and shouted slogans.
 
The situation grew tense late Sunday when over 200 pilgrims did not vacate the temple premises even after 10 p.m, as ordered by the state administration, and stayed put singing Lord Ayyappa hymns and chants.
 
As they continued despite repeated requests from the police, action was initiated to forcefully evict them from the premises. This led to their arrests in a post-midnight action.
 
Alphons on Monday reacted sharply to the arrests, and told the media in Nilackal, before heading to the shrine: "I fail to understand why the Kerala Police has clamped prohibitory orders. This is not the way things should be handled. Sabarimala pilgrims are not extremists. You can't use force in this place."
 
Kerala Minister for Devaswoms (temples) Kadakampally Surendran, reacting sharply to the allegations said it was not pilgrims but Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) "goons" who had taken over the Lord Ayyappa shrine, and backed the police action.
 
"He (Alphons) should not have said things without knowing facts," Surendran said.
 
Alphons who was headed to the hill temple said he would inspect how the state has utilised the Rs 100-crore relief fund from the Centre. "I will go around the temple town to make sure how the funds have been used."
 
Surendran said: "It's true that the Centre has sanctioned Rs 100 crore for various projects in Sabarimala and the deadline for implementing it ends in July 2019.
 
"But the unprecedented floods saw close to Rs 19 crore of work in progress in projects getting washed away in September.
 
"What happened in the temple premises last night was a takeover by the RSS goons. The police pleaded with them to return as it's against the law to remain there. It was only after they refused to move that the police acted."
 
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After going around the place, Alphons said the state government has failed miserably in setting up the basic infrastructure.
 
"Toilets are placed five feet above the ground and it appears one needs a lift to reach the toilet," said Alphons.
 
State BJP president P. S. Sreedharan Pillai told the media that a judicial probe must be conducted into what happened last night at Sabarimala, as this is the first time in the history of the temple that there has been police action against pilgrims.
 
Leader of the Opposition in Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala told the media that it is most unfortunate that pilgrims are held in police custody, and demanded that the state government release them at the earliest.
 
Superintendent of Police Prathish Kumar told reporters that the arrests were made after the protesters despite being asked to disperse once the temple closes at 10 p.m did not move out.
 
Right-wing activists held protests on Monday across the state.
 
Security has been heightened for Vijayan, who was shown black flags by angry youth activists of the BJP in Kozhikode where he was in connection with some official engagements.
 
The Sabarimala temple doors opened on November 17 for two months.
 
The temple town has witnessed protests by Hindu groups since September 28 when the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple that hitherto banned girls and women aged between 10 and 50.
 
The apex court on November 13 refused to stay that verdict.
 
While the Kerala government is trying hard to see that the apex court verdict is implemented, the BJP-RSS, other pro-Hindutva forces and the Congress-led UDF are up in arms against violation of the temple tradition.
 
IANS
 

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Sabarimala town comes under total police control

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Kerala's Sabarimala town where the famed Lord Ayyappa shrine is located came under complete police control on Saturday ahead of its day-long opening on November 5, a senior official said.
 
In a verdict on September 28, the Supreme Court allowed women of all age groups to enter the temple which led to mass protests.
 
According to Pathanamthitta district Superintendent of Police T. Narayanan, 1,500 police officials have been deployed in the temple town and will remain till the midnight of November 6 when the temple will close again.
 
He said as of now, there have been no requests from women to enter the shrine.
 
"If there are any requests, the police will see that the apex court verdict is carried out. None other than the pilgrims would be given permission to the designated areas of the temple," said Narayanan.
 
The security arrangements were being monitored by Additional Director General of Police Anil Kanth.
 
According to the police, no one is allowed to remain in the pathway that leads to the temple, right from the Pamba base camp and also in the areas closer to the sanctum santorum of the temple.
 
Restrictions have been clamped for the media and they will only be allowed to reach the temple town on November 5.
 
As of Saturday, the police have registered 536 cases and arrested 3,719 persons, who protested last month when the temple opened for six days. 
 
Only around 100 are still in jail, while the rest have secured bail.
 
IANS

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Army to build two bridges to facilitate pilgrims' return to Sabarimala

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The Indian Army is set to build two bailey bridges near the Sabarimala temple to facilitate the pilgrims' return to the temple town, the authorities said on Friday.
 
The overflowing Pamba river and the closure of two major bridges forced the authorities to close the Sabarimala temple since August 13. 
 
Speaking to IANS, State Tourism and Devasom Minister K. Surendran said since the Pamba river was flooded, huge damage was caused to the temple town and its infrastructure.
 
"Two bridges have been shut and we are still unable to assess the extent of the damage caused by the floods. We have decided to entrust the Indian Army with the task of building two bailey bridges," said Surendran. 
 
The engineering division of the Army from Hyderabad has been entrusted with the job, he said, adding the final clearance is expected from the Defence Secretary soon.
 
He said Army authorities will decide the alignment of the bridges. One bridge would be meant for the vehicular traffic, and the other for pedestrians.
 
"Our prime focus is to get the damaged roads repaired. We are hoping the pilgrims will be able to return to the temple when it opens in the middle of the next month," said Surendran.
 
According to the temple authorities, the floods have caused damage worth Rs 100 crore to its infrastructure.
 
The sluice gates of two dams that form a part of the Sabarigiri project was opened after heavy rains and subsequent floods ravaged places in and around the temple town.
 
However, all the religious rituals of the temple are going on.
 
The temple is open only from the middle of November till the middle of January, but for several years now, it is kept open for a few days at the start of every Malayalam month which falls during the middle of every month.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala sees some normalcy, CM promises all help

Parts of flood-ravaged Kerala began limping to normalcy as rains kept away from the state for a second successive day on Thursday, but officials admitted there was a long way to go for the human suffering to abate.
 
Kerala flood survivors struggle to restart normal lives
 
 
Parts of flood-ravaged Kerala began limping to normalcy as rains kept away from the state for a second successive day on Thursday, but officials admitted there was a long way to go for the human suffering to abate.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan flew to a handful of over 3,000 relief centres housing over one million people and promised that his government would do everything possible to help them overcome their woes.
 
Vijayan took a helicopter to see for himself the conditions in the relief camps in Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, which were hit hardest in the deadliest floods in the state in nearly a century.
 
Some 370 people have died since the monsoon rains began on May 29 and more than 1 million people were forced to take shelter in relief camps this month after torrential rains and the opening of the sluice gates of dams caused a deluge. 
 
"We will do everything possible to help the people. We know that when people reach their houses, there will be nothing (there). The government will play its role to help the people who are suffering," Vijayan told the media at Chalakkudy.
 
Thursday saw a lot of people from various camps returning to their homes but complaints surfaced that some tribal families from a camp in Wayanad were forced to leave.
 
"We were asked to leave despite telling them that we have no house to return to. Now we are staying in our neighbour's place," said Thanka, a tribal woman.
 
Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala, is back to 85 per cent of its old self, with more and more shops and offices that remained shut for almost a week reopening, residents said.
 
"The IT headquarters in Kochi, Infopark campus, saw more and more staffers back at work as offices reopened," said an IT professional.
 
"Likewise, traffic in some places was normal like it was prior to the floods," said a PR agency executive.
 
But a few kilometres away in Paravur, with thousands still in relief camps, the flood waters in low-lying areas had not drained completely.
 
The biggest problem appeared to be the failure to quickly dispose of carcasses of cattle and domestic pets and also the huge garbage strewn all across the previously submerged areas.
 
"The stink is killing us," complained a Paravur resident. "Despite several telephone calls to authorities, nothing is happening."
 
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In Thiruvalla town of Pathanamthitta district, offices and banks functioned near normally.
 
But many across Kerala complained that labourers were demanding as high as Rs 2,000 for a day's work to clean up water-logged homes.
 
Some people in central Kerala were lucky. Teams equipped with cleaning equipment came from the state capital and spruced up their homes.
 
Of the 52 ration shops in Thiruvalla, 27 had their stocks damaged. The government has pledged to provide them fresh stock in two days.
 
For a second day running, the Congress party blamed the Kerala government for the tragedy, with state President M.M. Hassan demanding a judicial probe into what he said was the indiscriminate opening of sluice gates of dams across the state leading to devastating floods.
 
But this was denied by Power Minister M.M. Mani who said there were several rounds of planning and discussions at various levels and that alerts were issued. "We did everything we could do."
 
Lashing out at the Centre, CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said that clinging to rules to deny aid from foreign countries to flood-hit Kerala was nothing but an act of vengeance by the Centre.
 
The Modi government says a rule framed by the previous Congress-led UPA government prohibits New Delhi from accepting foreign aid following natural disasters.
 
The UAE, home to hundreds of thousands of Keralities, has offered Rs 700 million as relief to Kerala.
 
IANS
 

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Sabarimala temple remains closed for pilgrims

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The Sabarimala temple in Kerala will remain closed to the public until further notice due to the overflowing Pamba river, authorities said on Thursday.
 
The temple was closed on August 13 following massive floods.
 
According to the temple authorities, the floods have caused damage worth Rs 100 crore to its infrastructure.
 
A. Padmakumar, President of the Travancore Devasom Board which manages the Sabarimala temple, told the media that they had no other option but to close it down.
 
The sluice gates of two dams that forms a part of the Sabarigiri project, was opened after heavy rains and subsequent floods ravaged places in and around the temple town.
 
However, all the religious rituals of the temple will be conducted.
 
Following the decision, several pilgrims from Tamil Nadu who had planned for a pilgrimage have cancelled their trip.
 
The temple is open only during from the middle of November till the middle of January, but for several years now, it is kept open for a few days at the start of every Malayalam month which falls during the middle of every month.
 
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 flood crisis: Death toll touches 79, rains continue

With rains still pouring down heavily leading to flooding across Kerala, 12 fresh deaths were reported on Thursday, taking the toll to 79, since August 8. More rains were forecast till Saturday.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
With rains still pouring down heavily leading to flooding across Kerala, 12 fresh deaths were reported on Thursday, taking the toll to 79, since August 8. More rains were forecast till Saturday.
 
The entire state has been on a red alert since Wednesday evening. A total of 28 deaths were reported on the day.
 
Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala has been the worst affected in the last 24 hours as thousands of people -- students among others -- were trapped in their homes in Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry.
 
Various media WhatsApp groups, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's, have been flooded with SOS messages from Pathanamthitta crying for help.
 
Fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
 
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur has been regulated since yesterday.
 
Train operations between Ernakulam and Angamaly have also been stopped and at Thiruvananthapuram railway station tickets are not being issued.
 
All educational institutions were closed on Thursday. The situation in the capital district on Thursday improved as there were less rains. Water logging in low lying areas also receded.
 
The deaths on Thursday were reported from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Thrissur. 
 
Parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur have been facing tough times with the dam waters from Idukki districts reaching Periyar, and its tributaries late on Wednesday.
 
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In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala were opened on Tuesday, following incessant rains since late that day as the Met forecast more till Saturday.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar though continued to be in a bad shape, an official said.
 
The Sabarimala temple continued to be cut off by the river Pamba in spate.
 
The hilly district of Wayanad connected from Kannur and Kozhikode through a hill highway was 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.
 
The Cochin International airport was closed on Wednesday till Saturday as the Periyar river waters entered the operational area.
 
The airport authorities are worried about the flooding of the Rs 60-crore solar power plant -- one of the biggest in an airport spread over 45 acres. They fear about its working again.
 
The defence forces and disaster response teams have been 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 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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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
 

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8 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Cyclone Ockhi wreaked substantial damage as it hurtled towards Lakshadweep Islands past the coasts of south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala and caused the deaths of eight people -- four each in the two states --- as the authorities mounted a massive search operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
A "Red" message issued at 0830 hours today by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the cyclonic storm over southeast Arabian Sea continued to move westnorthwestwards with a speed of 17 kmph during past six hours, intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and lay centred at 0530 hours IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.8º N and longitude 74.0º E, about 110 km north-northeast of Minicoy and 290 km southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (>20 cm). Isolated heavy to very heavy falls were likely during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely over many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 110-120 kmph gusting to 130 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and high during the subsequent 24 hours, the bulletin said.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said the cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees, major damage to thatched houses/huts, major damage to kutcha houses, some damage to pucca roads, flooding of escape routes and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops in Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, it said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off Kerala and Karnataka coast during the next 48 hours.
 
Meanwhile, many parts of south Kerala continued to receive heavy rains for the second day today.
 
Power supply was disrupted in some areas after electricity poles were uprooted and some roads were blocked by trees which had been uprooted.
 
There was concern in some coastal villages of Kollam and adjacent areas because several fishermen who had set out for the sea had not returned so far.
 
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Indian Navy officials said a Boeing P8I aircraft deployed at first light from INS Rajali this morning had sighted seven survivors hanging on to a capsized boat about 25 miles west of Thiruvananthapuram. The aircraft had dropped a life raft in the vicinity and reported the exact position to ships in the area, which were being diverted to render assistance.
 
The Navy had said yesterday that, based on a request received from the District Collector of Thiruvananthapuram for assistance in the search and rescue of six fishing boats with fisherman and one marine engineering vessel reported to be missing at sea near Vizhinjam, the Southern naval Command had deployed Indian Naval Ships Shardul, Nireekshak, Kabra and Kalpeni and two aircraft based at Kochi.
 
The ships and aircraft would carry out search and rescue (SAR) operations in the area and would continue to remain at sea for any assistance required by the civil administration.
 
The Southern Naval Command is also gearing up for any Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) that may be required due to the effects of the storm, an official press release said.
 
According to official sources, apart from the Boeing P8I aircraft, an Indian Coast Guard Dornier and Chetak, advanced light helicopters and seven Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships were also in the area and scanning the Kerala coast.
 
The sources said a fisherman was rescued from sea off Vizhinjam in Kerala by an Indian  Coast Guard ship.
 
Schools in the coastal districts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu were closed. Rail traffic to and from Thiruvananthapuram was affected due to the heavy rains.
 
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has despatched its teams to south Kerala as well as Kanyakumari and Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu, the sources added.
 
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IMD issues cyclone warning for south Kerala, south Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

Image: IMD
Image: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of South Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep with the cyclonic storm Ockhi lying centred over southeast Arabian Sea this evening.
 
An "Orange" message issued at 2000 hours by IMD said that the latest observations and radar and satellite imageries indicated that Ockhi, over Arabian Sea off south Kerala coast, had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1730 hrs IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.2º N and longitude 75.8º E, about 130 km west-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 290 km east-southeast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours. It is very likely to move westnorthwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during the next 36 hours and then move northwestwards during the subsequent 24 hours," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, rainfall was very likely at most places over south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours and over south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls over interior Tamil Nadu and Kerala during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, were very likely along and off South Kerala during next 36 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours, it said.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 60-70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph around tomorrow evening, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be high along and off South Kerala coast during the next 36 hours and very rough to high along and off south Tamil Nadu coast during the next 12 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and very high during the subsequent 48 hours.
 
The bulletin said damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees, major damage to "kutcha" houses, minor damage to "pucca" roads and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards could occur in south Kerala  (Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kollam, Pathanathitta and  Thiruvananthapuram districts), adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) and Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands from tonight, the bulletin said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts), and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) during the next 12 hours.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off South Kerala coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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IMD issues cyclone warning for South Kerala, south TN and Lakshadweep

Image: IMD
Image: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of South Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep with the cyclonic storm Ockhi over the Comorin area lying centred off the south Kerala coast and neighbourhood this afternoon.
 
In an "Orange" message issued at 1700 hours, the IMD said the latest observations and satellite imageries indicated that Ockhi had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1430 hours IST over south Kerala coast and neighbourhood near latitude 7.9º N and longitude 76.4º E, about 120 km west-southwest of Kanyakumari, 180 km south-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 360 km east-southeast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards Lakshadweep Islands and intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The bulletin said that, under the influence of the system, rainfall would occur at most plaes over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls over interior Tamil Nadu and Kerala during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
It also said that rainfall was very likely over Lakshadweep area during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls.
 
According to IMD, gale winds, with speed reaching 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, are very likely along and off South Kerala during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 80-90 kmph, gusting to 100 kmph, from tonight.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be high along and off South Kerala coast during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be very rough to high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and high to very high during the subsequent 48 hours, it said.
 
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The bulletin said damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees, major damage to "kutcha" houses, minor damage to "pucca" roads and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards could occur in south Kerala  (Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kollam, Pathanathitta and  Thiruvananthapuram districts), adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) and Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands from tonight, the bulletin said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts), and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) during the next 12 hours.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off South Kerala coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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