Toll climbs to 91, Red alert for two dists Wednesday

As the toll in floods and landslips in Kerala rose to 91 on Tuesday, authorities are on a high alert with weathermen forecasting isolated extremely heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours.

A total of 2.26 lakh people, who were displaced by the floods and landslides, have been housed in 1,239 relief camps, officials said.

With the rain fury abating in Malappuram on Tuesday, operations were in full swing to trace those missing in a series of landslips at Kavalappara and Kottakunnu since August 8.

According to the government update at 7 pm, Tuesday, 91 people have lost their lives in the state--60 from the three northern districts of Malappuram (31), Kozhikode (17) and Wayanad (12) since August 8 and the toll is likely to go up further as 59 were still missing.

A red alert has been issued for the rain-battered Malappuram and Kozhikode on Wednesday, IMD sources said, adding over 20 cm of rains are expected in these districts.

The worst-hit Malappuram had been ravaged by massive landslides at Kavalappara and Kottakunnu on August 8 where 51 people are still missing after their homes were flattened by nature's fury.

In Wayanad, which was also ravaged by a landslide at Puthumala in Mepaddi, 12 people have died and seven are still missing.

Due to the strengthening of the low pressure in the Bay of Bengal, extremely heavy rains are expected to lash several parts of the state, Director of India Meteorological Department (IMD) at Thiruvananthapuram, K Santosh said.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan toured the worst affected districts of Malappuram and Wayanad, where 43 people have died in landslides

A Defence press release said the Chief Minister also made an aerial survey over the flood affected areas in these districts in an IAF Mi-17 helicopter.

Meanwhile, in view of the devastation caused by floods and landslides, Governor P Sathasivam has cancelled the 'At Home' function scheduled to be held on August 15 at the Raj Bhavan as part of Independence day celebrations.

Addressing the flood-hit at a relief camp in Meppadi in Wayanad, Vijayan said, "the government is with you..we need to overcome all difficulties and hardships together."

The government is now giving priority to rescue measures after which it would focus on rehabilitation initiatives, he said.

"There are several people who have completely lost their houses and properties and suffered crop loss. Some more people, who have gone missing, are yet to be traced and efforts are on to find them," he said.

Vijayan also visited relief centres in Malappuram and held discussions with people's representatives and officials.

Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi had toured the affected areas and relief camps promising all help to the people.

In a Facebook post, he praised the flood-hit people of his Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, saying the bravery and dignity displayed by them in the face of tragedy was "truly humbling."

I left Wayanad with nothing but pride for the people I represent," Gandhi, who left Kerala on Tuesday morning after winding up his two-day visit to Wayanad, said in the post.

At least 11,159 houses have been damaged partially in various parts of the state and 1057 fully in rain-related incidents.

A holiday has been declared for educational institutions in nine districts-- Kozhikode, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Wayanad, Malappuram, Kannur, Kottayam, Alapuzha and Idukki-- on Wednesday as heavy rains have been predicted and many schools have been converted as relief centres.