Rains claim 16 lives in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 5 : Heavy rain in Kerala since Sunday afternoon has caused huge loss to life and property, especially in Idukki district, where 14 deaths were reported. Two rain-related deaths were reported from Ernakulam, officials said.

The hilly district of Idukki was the worst affected, as landslides were reported in 16 places, state Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash, who reached the district to personally supervise mitigation and relief efforts, said Monday.

Cheeyapara near Munnar, the famous hill station, saw a huge mass of hillside slip. The incident occurred when vehicles were parked on the road beneath, witnesses said.

"Rescue operations were on to clear the road when the landslip occurred. Three vehicles were parked on the road nearby, and were pushed into a crevice by the falling mud. Five bodies were recovered from the vehicles," a witness said, adding that the land mass that slipped is spread over nearly 200 metres.

"Only after the rescue operations are completed can we know how many vehicles are trapped under it," the witness said.

Heavy rain has hampered rescue work. The state government has requested the aid of the defence forces in the rescue effort. Indian Navy personnel have already left for Idukki, a defence press release issued here Monday said.

S. Rajendran, legislator from Devikulam, under which Munnar falls, told the media that the situation that prevailed in Munnar has never been witnessed in the past five decades.

"For the past two days, heavy rain has caused so much damage to the roads. This is something unheard of in the recent history of Munnar. Landslides have been reported at a few places, and there is so much water on the roads that it is unsafe for motorists," said Rajendran.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called for an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the issue and sanctioned Rs.2 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of each of the dead. He asked special medical teams to be rushed to Idukki.

"In view of the heavy rains, it is in the interest of all tourists to put off their journey to Idukki district. Almost 200 km of roads in the district have been damaged in rain and landslide," Chandy told reporters.

--IANS (Posted on 05-08-2013)

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