Natural Disasters

Kerala floods: Death toll touches 370

The IMD says the rainfall density is expected to reduce majorly in the next 2-3 days

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Thursday 16 August 2018
Kerala Floods
Rains continue to batter the state even today while heavy to very heavy rain in some districts has been predicted by IMD for August 17. Credit: Jaya Soman Rains continue to batter the state even today while heavy to very heavy rain in some districts has been predicted by IMD for August 17. Credit: Jaya Soman

Update on August 20: Kerala floods have claimed 370 lives till now. More than 7 lakh people have been displaced by the worst natural calamity the state has witnessed in a century.

August 16

Rains continued to batter flood-hit Kerala on August 16. The state received 41 per cent more rainfall than normal in this season, most of it in the last few days. In fact, the percentage of excess rainfall has jumped from 15 per cent on August 8 to 41 per cent on August 16.

The total death toll, as a result of the floods, has reached 164. Pathanamthitta and Ernakulam are the worst affected districts where many people are stranded inside their houses, schools, colleges. Pathanamthitta received almost 8 times the normal rainfall on August 16 while Ernakulam received 4 times.

All three wings of the armed forces have been deployed for the rescue and relief operations. Sixteen teams of the Army and 42 of the Navy are currently operating in flood-affected regions. Five hundred and forty more reinforcements have also been sent in on Thursday morning. Around 1.7 lakh people have been shifted to relief camps in the state.

The Idukki and Mullaperiyar dams are also on the verge of overflowing again. And dam water is again being released downstream.

August 15

The death toll from the worst floods in Kerala in almost a century has risen to 79 on August 15. All the 14 districts of the state have been declared flood hit and put on red alert.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Kerala received almost eight times its normal rainfall on August 15. Except for Kasargod, all other districts received more than four times the normal rain. Thiruvananthapuram received as high as 35 times more rainfall than normal while Kollam received 15 times more. Absolute rainfall ranged from as high as 206.4 mm in Idukki to 67.2 mm in Kasargod. Rains continue to batter the state even today, while heavy to very heavy rain in some districts has been predicted by IMD for August 17 and 18 as well.

The plantation industry has taken a massive hit in the state due to the weather conditions and the floods. “The total loss to the plantation industry in the state could be well over Rs 700 crore and the situation is very grim with no foreseeable hope for recuperation,” Thomas Jacob, the chairman of the Association of Planters of Kerala, told Down to Earth. This includes tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom and pepper plantations. According to him, tea plantations have had no crop in the past three months due to the continuous downpour and overcast conditions. Crops like cardamom and pepper have also become disease ridden due to the inclement weather. “I have never witnessed such a situation in my life,” he said.

Looking at the situation, the authorities have now opened the gates of 35 dams in the state, the latest being the Mullaperiyar dam. The operations at Kochi airport have been suspended till August 18. The flights are being diverted either to the Trivandrum or the Kozhikode airports.

Twelve more teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are being deployed for rescue and relief operations in the state even as 18 teams are already present there. Over two lakh people across the state have been shifted to relief camps. The Indian Navy is also conducting its ‘Operation Madad’ in the state.

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