As heavy rains continued to lash Kerala, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday issued a red warning in 7 districts of the state for the day IMD issued red warnings for Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Idukki districts. In view of the development, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has called a meeting of the District Collectors to assess rain damage and coordinate relief work, a release issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.
The CM has asked people to be very careful, not go into rivers, water bodies, streams etc. to bathe, wash clothes or bathe animals, avoid night travel as much as possible and be ready to strictly follow the warnings given by the Disaster Management Authority, the release said.
The police, fire brigade and other government agencies have been instructed to be alert, fishermen have been advised not to go into the sea under any circumstances and people living in areas prone to landslides have been asked to evacuate and move to relief camps, it said. Besides the red warnings, the IMD also issued orange warnings in Thrissur and Malappuram districts and yellow warnings in the remaining districts of the state for the day.
The IMD also issued a red warning for the above 7 districts for August 2 as well as an orange warning for 4 districts on that day. Red warning has been issued in 11 districts and Orange for 2 districts of the state for August 3 according to an IMD district rainfall forecast issued for Kerala at 1 PM on Monday. For August 4, it has issued a red warning for 9 districts and Orange for 3 districts of the state.
Earlier in the day, three members of a family died after the car they were travelling in skidded off the road and fell into a nearby stream swollen with rainwater while trying to overtake a bus near Vennikulam in Pathanamthitta district of the state. Chandi Mathew, his wife and daughter drowned in the stream by the time locals could rescue them, police said. The accident occurred at around 7 am, when the car they were travelling in skidded off the wet road while trying to overtake a bus and fell into the nearby stream whose water levels had risen considerably due to the heavy rains, police said.
In another rain-related incident, a 60-year old man was swept away in the Pampa river in Athikkayam village in Pathanamthitta district and firefighters are presently searching for him, district officials said.
In view of the bad weather conditions and warning of heavy rains in the coming days, quarrying and mining activities have been put on hold in Kottayam and Ernakulam districts, officials said.
In Kottayam, 25 people who were visiting the Illikkal Ilaveezhapoonchira tourist centre in the district could not return home due to the rains and were presently safely housed in a nearby government school and adjoining homes, officials said.
Officials said they are making efforts to make way for small vehicles to pass on the Chakkikav-Koovapally road and added that rescue efforts in the area were being hampered by broken electric lines and poles.
Meanwhile, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) chief and MP K Sudhakaran asked all party workers to come forward to aid in relief work in view of the heavy rains in the state.
Sudhakaran has also asked the party to open control rooms in DCC offices and at the ground level and said that workers of all party units should come forward in this time of crisis and be part of the relief and rescue activities.
State Revenue Minister K Rajan said that besides the heavy rains, the strong winds accompanying it are also a matter of concern.
Speaking to reporters at Thrissur, the minister said strong winds are expected to hit the state, especially the coastal areas of Kollam, Kayamkulam and parts of Kochi, in the coming days and as a result even Vizhinjam port is expected to be affected.
He has advised fishermen to be careful in the prevailing situation.
Monday was declared a holiday for educational institutions in some parts of the state.
In Ernakulam, in view of the heavy rains alert issued for the district till August 4, all departments have been directed to be prepared and fishermen have been instructed not to go to sea, the control room of the district said.
Water levels of rivers flowing through the district are being monitored in view of the heavy rain warnings and a meeting of the District Disaster Management Authority is also scheduled to be held during the day, the control room said.
The central Meteorological Department had on Sunday predicted heavy rains in Kerala till August 4. A red warning indicates heavy to extremely heavy rains of over 20 cm in 24 hours, while orange warning means very heavy rains from 6 cm to 20 cm of rain. A yellow warning means heavy rainfall between 6 to 11 cm.