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Heavy rains and sea incursion: Kerala on high vigil

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 13: In view of heavy rainfall warning, Kerala was put on high alert on Friday with the government opening relief camps and shifting people living in low-lying areas to safer places as rains were lashing several parts of the state since Thursday night.

The shutters of the Aruvikkara dam here were opened Thursday night due to heavy inflow and continuous downpour resulted in the Karamana and Killi rivers in the state capital to overflow.

Kerala

Several people, living on the banks of these rivers, and low-lying areas were shifted to safer places and relief camps as a precautionary measure, authorities here said.

Overnight rains led to waterlogging and uprooting of treesin many parts of southern Kollam district.

High waves and sea incursion damaged several houses in coastal hamlets of Kollam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam districts since Thursday night.

Chellanam, a coastal village in Ernakulam, was one of the several places which suffered the wrath of rough seasince Thursday.

Several houses were damaged as sea water seeped in due to high tidal waves, local people complained.

Sea erosion was reported at Velinakode in Ponnani in Malappuram district and Kasaba in Kozhikode.

According to Rekha Nambiar, Commandant, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), as a precautionary measure, nine teams of NDRF have been sent to Kerala.

"In Wayanad and Idukki districts, which are prone to landslides, we have sent equipment which would be required in case of landslides," she said.

She also said they were taking all precautions inview of COVID-19.

"The personnel have been scanned and we have ensured that they do not have anycomorbidity symptoms. While engaging in rescue operations, they will be taking all precautions," Nambiar told a TV channel.

The Land Revenue Commissionerate here said a total 87 people have been shifted to four relief camps opened in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki and Ernakulam districts so far.

A total of 3,071 buildings have been identified to be converted as relief camps.

It can accommodate at least 4,23,080 people at a time, sources added.

Authorities, however, said in many places people seemed reluctant to move to relief camps in the wake of the COVID-19 situation.

However, Disaster Management officials here said the camps were arranged in adherence to pandemic protocols.

Those who are tested positive for the virus, those under quarantine and others would be accommodated separately and so there was no need to be panic to move to relief camps, they added.

Though theIndia Meteorological Department (IMD) had on Thursday sounded a Red Alert in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta indicating the possibility of extremely heavy rains under the influence of a low pressure area over the Arabian Sea, it was withdrawn Friday morning.

As per the latest IMD forecast, a yellow alert was issued in Thiruvananthapuram while an orange alert in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode andWayanad districts.

Authorities have banned fishing in the sea till the situation becomes normal.

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has urged people living in landslide prone areas and coastal areas to take all precautions.

It has also directed authorities to take steps to open relief camps adhering to COVID-19 protocol.

Various district administrations have opened control rooms at the district, taluk and panchayat levels to coordinate relief operations in view of heavy rains predicted by the IMD.

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