Kerala floods: Idukki struggles with relief efforts as death toll climbs to 51

Idukki was combing through mud-covered terrain on Monday to search for dozens of people still missing after torrential rains caused floods and landslides across the district.

Published: 20th August 2018 04:42 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th August 2018 04:42 PM   |  A+A-

People evacuating from Adimali, Idukki. ( Photo | A Sanesh/ EPS)

Express News Service

IDUKKI: The worst floods in 100 years have killed over 51 people in Idukki and forced 33,635 people to flee from their homes to the relief camps. As per the data available with the district disaster management authority, as many as 211 relief camps were opened across the district since August, with 52 at Devikulam, 24 at Peermade, 46 at Thodupuzha, 35 at Udumbanchola and 53 at Idukki taluk.

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While the rains now having stopped and flood waters are receding, survivors are faced with health risks from changing the climate and a lack of safe drinking water. The average rainfall recorded in Idukki was at a low of 13.76 mm on Monday, with Devikulam and Udambanchola taluks recording 8.4 mm rainfall respectively. The highest of the rainfall was recorded in Idukki; 30.2 mm, while Peerumade and Thodupuzha recording 8.7 mm and 13.1 mm rainfall respectively.

Thousands of homes were still without clean water and electricity in Munnar and other hard-hit areas. The army ferried oil tankers to Adimaly, whose approximately 40,000 residents were cut off from the rest of the prefecture due to the disaster, after partially opening the Kochi Dhanushkodi NH 85 which Connects Adimaly and Kothamangalam, However, recurrently occurring rain and mud deposits also hampered relief and rescue efforts. The shipments of relief goods were delayed because of damaged roads and transportation systems, especially in areas isolated by the disaster.

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Munnar lost its past gloryMunnar, called the Kashmir of Kerala, has taken a brutal battering, with boulders, mire and uprooted tea shrubs upending its green tea valleys. Residential areas, as well as famous tourist destinations, including Mattuppetty, Kundala and Rajamala, were inundated. It was the worst flood Munnar had experienced after 1924.

The landslides here heaped misery upon sorrow, killing at least seven persons and had doused out the expectations of various stakeholders of the tourism sector here. Even five-star hotels and resorts got submerged under water, roads became rivers as mud tore sky high buildings in half, ripped down trees and tumbled boulders like Legos.

As many as 3000 residents were forced to evacuate from their houses. Tourists from USA, Saudhi, Oman, Singapore, UAE and Russia, who were on a visit to Munnar, were left stranded at a private resort at Pallivasal after the heavy rain triggered landslide near the resort.

Despite nature's fury, construction on environmentally fragile areas still continued here, however, they too tumbled down in the heavy rain, reminding, how human intervention on nature can hamper an entire civilization completely. -"Deforestation, blasting, encroachments on drainage systems, including rivers and streams, on the hill slides, etc definitely increase the landslide potential. Despite warning from the authorities concerned, encroachers moved on modifying the hill slopes and levelling the water bodies.

Now, the disaster has spread devastation not only to the hill town but to the properties they have earned through their life-" said Munnar special tahsildar P K Shaji. Thousands of booking has been cancelled and the Eravikulam National Park, where the mass flowering of Neelakurinji should have taken place remained shut.

Munnar wildlife warden R Lakshmi said the neelakurinji flowering season at the Eravikulam National Park was expected to last till mid-November this year. "It was in the first week of August 2006 that Munnar got adorned with the beautiful blue floral carpet of the neelakurinji, last time. However, the heavy rain have delayed the blooming of Neelakurinji, which blooms in abundance only when 15 days of continues sunlight is showered upon the shrub," she saidEnds

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