Over 170 Dead as Southern and Western States Continue to Grapple with Flood Fury; Kerala, K’taka Worst Hit


New Delhi: The death toll in the floods ravaging the southern and western states on Sunday mounted to 178. While the rains, which had pounded Kerala for days abated, the situation remained grim in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, where at least 110 people have lost their lives so far to the monsoon fury.

All rivers continue to be in spate in Karnataka where the UNESCO world heritage site in Hampi, on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in Ballari, was inundated after more than 1.70 lakh cusec water was released from a reservoir on Sunday morning. Officials said that tourists in Hampi were shifted to safer places.

The unprecedented deluge since last week has left 40 people dead and displaced more than four lakh people in 80 taluks of 17 districts. Union Home Minister Amit Shah undertook an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas of Karnataka and Maharashtra on Sunday.

In Kerala, over 2.27 lakh people have taken shelter in 1,551 relief camps. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reviewed the flood situation with senior officials on Sunday and later said that the toll in rain-related incidents since August 8 has crossed 60.

Flight operations at the Kochi international airport resumed on Sunday afternoon, two days after it was shut due to inundation of the runway area. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for Kannur, Kasaragod and Wayanad in view of heavy rain forecast.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi urged the state and central governments to provide immediate assistance to those affected by the floods in the state and promised to do everything possible to get the people back on their feet.

“It is heartbreaking to see what all the people of Wayanad have lost. We will do everything in our power to help them get back on their feet,” Gandhi said in a tweet after visiting people affected by floods and landslides in his constituency.

Vadakara in Kozhikode district recorded 21 cm of rainfall, the highest in the state as of 8.30 am on Sunday, followed by Kodungallur in Thrissur (19.9 cm), and Perinthalmanna in Malappuram (13.8 cm).

Vijayan said water levels in major dams are not a cause of worry as of now. The Army, Navy, Coast Guard, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), police force, volunteers and fishermen are involved in the rescue operation in various places.

The Southern Railway on Sunday cancelled 10 trains, including the Mangaluru-Thiruvananthapuram Express, Maveli Express, Malabar Express, Kannur-Ernakulam Intercity Express and the Ernakulam-Bengaluru Intercity Express.

The railways announced the waiver of freight charges for transportation of relief materials to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, where over 10 lakh people had to be shifted from their homes to escape inundation.

“All government organisations across the country can book relief material free of cost to Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra as of now. Other organisations, as deemed fit by the divisional Railway manager, may also avail of this provision,” Deputy Director (Traffic Commercial) of the Railway Board Mahendar Singh said in a letter to all railway general managers.

The Ballari district administration in Karnataka has asked people living along the river banks to move to safer places as all 33 gates of the Tungabhadra Dam were opened in the wake of incessant rains.

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said the preliminary estimate of flood-related loss in the state was Rs 10,000 crore even as he urged the Centre to release Rs 3,000 crore as immediate aid.

“Our preliminary estimate of losses is Rs 10,000 crore, but I personally believe that the losses will stand between Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore,” he said. “We have urged the central government to release Rs 3,000 crore immediately as assistance.”

At least 40 people have been killed in rain-related incidents in five districts of western Maharashtra in a week, including 17 who drowned when a boat capsized near Brahmanal village in Sangli on Thursday.

Four lakh people have so far been moved to safety from the flood-affected areas of Maharashtra, officials said on Sunday, adding 761 villages in 69 tehsils are affected by the deluge.

Over five lakh cusec of water has been discharged from Almatti dam on the Krishna river in Karnataka to ease the flood situation in western Maharashtra. Koyna dam in Satara discharged 53,882 cusec of water as its catchment area was still experiencing torrential rains, an official said.

Rains pounded Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Sindhudurg districts in the state over the last week.

“The NDRF has deployed 29 teams, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) three, Coast Guard 16, Navy 41 and Army 21 in these 10 districts,” an official said.

Heavy showers continued to lash parts of Gujarat on Sunday, taking the toll in rain-related incidents to 31. Several parts of central Gujarat and Saurashtra and Kutch regions have been receiving heavy rains for the last three days.

A police official said five fishermen drowned on Sunday after three boats caught in rough weather in the Arabian sea capsized off the Porbandar coast in Saurashtra region.

In another incident, seven people from Vavdi village in Surendranagar were swept away in the strong current of Falku river as they were trying to cross a causeway on Saturday evening, a police official said. “Six bodies have so far been recovered,” he said.


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