Rains batter North Kerala, 30,000 people in relief camps
Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 14 (PTI) Heavy rains pounded various parts of Kerala, especially the northern regions this morning, compounding the miseries of the people of the state where thousands are lodged in relief camps. In view of the situation, educational institutions in most places have declared a holiday today. Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Kannur, Kasaragod and Palakkad are being lashed by heavy rains, disaster control room sources said. In most of these places landslides had been reported yesterday. Over 20,000 houses have been damaged completely, 10,000 km of roads destroyed and 30,000 people are in relief camps across the state in the heavy rains which have been lashing the state since August 8, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here. The government also decided to do away with annual 'Onam' celebrations being organised by the state and to utilise the amount for relief measures, he said. Weather men have forecast thunderstorm and gusty winds in the region today. Several areas of the worst-hit Wayanad are completely waterlogged and the water level in the Banasura Sagar dam in the district has touched the full reservoir level of 775.60 m at 5 am this morning. If more water is released, it is likely to further worsen the situation. In Wayanad, 13,461 people have been lodged in 124 camps. With heavy to very heavy rainfall predicted for Kerala in the next 24 hours, there seems to be no let up in the woes of the people in the state. In the idukki reservoir, two of the five sluice gates, which had been opened after a gap of 26 years, have been closed as the water level has decreased. However, a matter of concern was the rising water level at the Mullaperiyar Dam level in Idukki district, which has touched 136.10 feet against its maximum level of 142 feet. An alert has been sounded asking people to be cautious, state authorities said. Ayyappa devotees have been asked not to visit the hill shrine at Sabarimala as the rain-fed Pampa rose menacingly. The articles for the conduct of the annual 'Niraputhiri' ritual would be brought to the shrine by this evening. "The pooja will be held as scheduled tomorrow," TDB President, A Padmakumar, told PTI. People coming to shrine unaware of the restrictions would be provided accommodation at Nilackal, on the foothills of Sabarimala, he said. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the shrine, the district authorities and police have issued alerts to devotees and decided to stop them at various points till the water receded. A large number of pilgrims are expected to visit the famed Lord Ayyappa temple as it will be opened for the 'niraputhari' ritual and festivities of 'Chingam' this week. The Pampa river flowing on the foothills of Sabarimala breached its banks at several places, damaging buildings and shops, flooding pathways and uprooting electric poles. The unprecedented rain fury since August 8 has so far claimed 39 lives in the state. Fishermen have been warned against putting out to sea.
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