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Kerala flood toll rises to 23, yellow alert in 11 districts; PM Modi assures Vijayan of assistance

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Kerala relived a grim reminder of the devastating floods of 2018 and 2019 as unabated rains lashed the state all through Saturday.

At least 23 people have died and many have been injured and displaced as heavy rains lashed south and central Kerala causing flash floods. Fourteen deaths were reported in Kottayam's Koottickal and eight in Idukki with over a dozen still missing in the state. A child has drowned in Kozhikode district, as per News18.

A total of 105 relief camps have been set up across Kerala and army, navy and air force has been roped in for rescue operations.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has requested the public to be extra cautious as the rain continues. In a statement issued by Vijayan, he asked people to take precautions to avoid accidents, and to follow instructions of authorities and shift to safer places if necessary. He also asked the public to avoid unnecessary trips.

The Indian Army was once again at the forefront of the massive rescue and relief operations launched in aid to civil administration in Kerala's Kottayam amid a flood-like situation triggered by heavy rains in the district.

According to a statement issued by the Indian Army, 40 Indian Army personnel from Pangode Military Station was the first rescue team to be deployed at the site in Kavali in Kottickal of Kottayam district of Kerala which had witnessed the loss of lives and heavy damage to property from the thunderstorms since early Friday.

It further stated that one Column of Army personnel from DSC Centre, Kannur with engineering and medical components arrived at Wayanad and commenced the rescue operations.

Another specialist Engineering Task Force (ETF) under Headquarters Dakshin Bharat Area from Bengaluru arrived at Mundakayam and Koottickal. A total of three columns have been deployed by the Army so far, it said.

The statement further said that despite the harsh and inclement weather conditions the Army reached the spot within few hours of requisition and have been since employed in assistance to the civil administration in rescue and relief operations in the area. Working since the late hours, the team was the first to reach the site at Kavali and have been successful in recovering three bodies from the debris, it added.

The Indian Army said in its statement that during the process of recovery, the team had salvaged a large quantity of gold and expensive accessories which were immediately handed over to the Civil administration for further accountability.

It also mentioned that the team have also been clearing and managing the traffic on the roads and diverting the flow of water into streams thereby ensuring the unhindered movement of rescue materials. The team is working in close coordination with the DC, Kottayam and the Tehsildar of Kanjirapally in the distribution of the much-needed relief material and in ensuring that normalcy returns in the area at the earliest, it added.

But the mayhem may still not be over as the Indian Meteorological Department has issued a flash flood warning in at least five Kerala districts and a yellow alert for heavy rain in eleven districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday spoke to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the situation in the wake of heavy rains and landslides in Kerala.

Red alert in five Kerala districts, flash flood warning Meanwhile, a 'red alert' has been issued by the India Meteorological Department for Ernakulam, Idduki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta in the south and Adilabad in the north. Low to moderate threat of flash flood has been observed over a few watersheds and neighbourhoods of Thrissur, Ernakulam, and Palakkad districts of Kerala and Mahe subdivision in the last six hours. Surface runoff or inundation may occur at some fully saturated soils and low-lying areas. There is a moderate risk of flash flood over a few watersheds and neighbourhoods of the coastal and central part of Kerala and Mahe subdivision in the next 24 hours.

"The situation is really serious in some parts of the state. We will do everything possible to save lives. We have sought help from the army, navy and air force. Relief camps have been set up in the districts," Vijayan said in a statement.

NDRF teams dispatched; IAF on standby

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has earmarked 11 teams to be deployed in south and central parts of Kerala which are pounded by heavy rains.

NDRF director general SN Pradhan said in a tweet that the teams are being sent "in view of red alert for rainfall and possible flooding/water logging in several districts of Kerala."

One team each has been deployed in Malappuram, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Palakkad, Kottayam, Kannur and Kollam while two teams will be stationed at Idukki.

A single NDRF team usually has a strength of 47 personnel equipped with tree and pole cutters, communication gadgets, inflatable boats and basic medical aid to rescue affected people and to launch relief operations.

Meanwhile, the army and the navy have joined in the rescue and relief operations. The former is conducting rescue operations for missing persons in debris in Kavali, Kottayam, while a navy chopper with relief materials is headed towards rain-affected areas. Two air force chopper Mi-17 are on standby at AF Station, Shangumugham.

The India Meteorological Department had issued a red alert for Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur districts and an orange alert for Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alapuzha, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad districts of the southern state.

The chief minister announced that colleges that were to reopen from 18 October should now only open from 20 October. It was also decided that the Sabarimala pilgrimage will be avoided till 19 October.

Amit Shah assures help

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said the Central Government is continuously monitoring the situation in Kerala and will provide all possible help to people in the state that has been hit by heavy rainfall. He tweeted:

With inputs from agencies

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