Rains, landslides kill 24, displace thousands in India’s Kerala state

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People stand on the steps of Aluva Shiva Temple complex submerged in water after the opening of Idamalayar dam shutter following heavy rains, on the outskirts of Kochi, India, August 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Indian residents look at the Shiva Temple submerged after the release of water from Idamalayar dam following heavy rains in Kochi on August 9, 2018. (AFP)
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Water gushes out following heavy rain and landslide in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (AP)
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Indian rescuers conduct rescue operations after a landslide at Kuttampuzha village in Ernakulam district in the Indian state of Kerala on August 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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Rains, landslides kill 24, displace thousands in India’s Kerala state

  • The maximum storage level of the reservoir, which is one of the largest arch dams in Asia, is 2,403 feet
  • Kerala has become a leading tourist destination, promoting itself as ‘God’s Own Country’, and has seen a boom in infrastructure

NEW DELHI: Torrential rains and landslides killed at least 24 people in southern India on Thursday, with the authorities opening the shutters of 24 water reservoirs in an unprecedented move to prevent potentially disastrous breaches, officials said.
The June-September rains in Kerala state have cost 175 lives and damaged crops worth 3.42 billion rupees ($49.81 million) across 26,824 hectares (66,284 acres) since their onset on May 29, an official at the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), who did not wish to be identified, said.
The state meteorological department forecast rains to continue on Friday and return on Monday.
“Kerala has received 17 percent more rainfall so far during the current season compared with last year,” K. Santhosh, Kerala director of India’s Meteorological Department, told Reuters.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced, several are missing, with incessant rains for more than 48 hours in some areas inundating hectares of low-lying land, authorities said.
The National Disaster Relief Force and the armed forces are helping in rescue and relief operations, they added.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “24 dams have been opened so far, which is unprecedented and is telling of the seriousness of the situation.”
The state, which has 44 rivers, witnessed its worst floods in 1924 following torrential rains.
“The situation is grim, especially in the coastal parts of Kerala, given the continuous rains,” P.H. Kurian, State Relief Commissioner and Convenor of KSDMA told Reuters.
One of the five shutters of a large reservoir in northern Idukki district, about 240 km (150 miles) from state capital Thiruvananthapuram, was opened for the first time in 26 years.
The maximum storage level of the reservoir, which is one of the largest arch dams in Asia, is 2,403 feet.
“If the rain continues, the other shutters will also be opened. All residents living along 100 meters of the dam have been asked to relocate to safe places,” a Kerala State Electricity Board official in Idukki, who did not wish to be named, said.
With its sweeping coastline, riverboats and tea plantations, Kerala, about the size of Bhutan, has become a leading tourist destination, promoting itself as ‘God’s Own Country’, and has seen a boom in infrastructure.
“Wetland refilling, encroachment and unauthorized construction in river banks and conversion of paddy fields have affected the flow of water, leading to stagnation and flash floods,” another official at KSDMA said on condition of anonymity.


Flash floods kill at least 13 people in southwest France

Updated 15 October 2018
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Flash floods kill at least 13 people in southwest France

  • People had to be helicoptered to safety from the roofs of their homes as overnight storms dumped

PARIS: Flash floods tore through towns in southwest France, turning waterways into raging torrents that killed at least 13 people, nine of them in just one town, authorities said Monday. People had to be helicoptered to safety from the roofs of their homes as overnight storms dumped the equivalent of several months of rain in just a few hours.
Worst hit was the town of Trebes, east of the medieval walled city of Carcassonne. The rains that swept in from the Mediterranean killed nine people there, Interior Ministry spokesman Frederic de Lanouvelle said.
He told BFMTV that the floods in the Aude region also killed four other people in other locations, left one person missing and seriously injured five others.
In the town of Villegailhenc, witness Ines Siguet said the waters rose so quickly that people were stranded on the roofs of their homes and had to be helicoptered to safety. She posted video of a ripped-up road where a bridge used to be, torn away by a flood torrent that cut the town in half.
“There’s nothing left. There’s just a hole,” the 17-year-old resident told The Associated Press. “It was very violent.”
Other roads also were flooded, leaving the town cut off, she said. Siguet’s school was shut down amid the destruction. Two people were killed in the town, according to the Aude regional government.
Alain Thirion, the prefect of Aude, said some of the dead appeared to have been swept away by floodwaters. In the town of Conques-sur-Orbiel, the river rose by more than six meters (20 feet), he said.
Floodwaters were in some cases too powerful for emergency services to get through, even on boats, he said.
Television images showed waters coursing through towns and villages, with cars stranded in the floods and piled up on top of each other like children’s toys.
The French government rushed hundreds of rescue workers into the flood zone and helicopters buzzed overhead. Schools were closed and authorities were urging people to stay home.