Rains, landslides kill 24, displace thousands in India's Kerala state

Kerala: 20 dead in landslides after heavy rains lash state, Cochin airport suspends arrivals

The Army is taking part in rescue-relief and damage control exercises in Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.

The water level in the reservoir stood at 2,401.60 ft against a full reservoir level of 2,403 ft.

As flooding and landslides continue to cause havoc in southern India state of Kerala, Catholic Church officials are working overtime to rehabilitate the affected people, mostly village farmers who have been displaced or have lost their homes and crops.

"Kerala has received 17 percent more rainfall so far during the current season compared with a year ago", K. Santhosh, Kerala director of India's Meteorological Department, told Reuters.

Earlier in the day, three shutters of the Cheruthoni dam were raised by 100 cm with 425 cumecs water gushing out every second.

Ten teams of the National Disaster Response Force, along with teams from the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard have been deployed to districts such as Palakkad, Kozhikode, Idukki, Wayanad and Malappuram.

With water levels rising in various dams and reaching nearly maximum capacity, shutters of at least 22 reservoirs in the state have been opened to drain out excess water.

More than 10,000 people have been shifted to 157 relief camps across the state in the last two days, the government said. People have to be vigilant, Vijayan said. "Any other immediate assistance requested by the Government of Kerala will be provided", Alphons said in a Facebook post.

Meanwhile, state Revenue minister E Chandrasekharan reviewed the flood situation and the precautionary measures to be taken in Aluva near Kochi airport and nearby areas in view of the possibility of increase in the water level following release of more water from Idukki reservoir. Cochin International Airport Limited sources said operations at the airport had not been affected.

"Several rescue and emergency teams have been sent to the affected districts", Kerala relief commissioner P.H Kurian told AFP.

Small bridges have been constructed to evacuate stranded people in various places in Kozhikode and Wayanad areas, and rescue operations are now underway.

News agency PTI quoted unnamed state officials as saying that a total of 53,501 people were housed in 439 relief camps across the state.

"The water current in rivers are very high, which is the most significant impediment for the Army rescue team to reach the cut off villages of Wayanad"," the spokesperson said.

"Twenty-four dams have been opened so far, which is unprecedented and is telling of the seriousness of the situation", Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wote on Twitter.

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