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Kerala: Rescue operations resume in monsoon-battered Idukki

August 06, 2013 12:03 IST

Rescuers were on Tuesday looking for possible survivors in rain-ravaged Idukki district of Kerala, where a string of landslides claimed 14 lives, even as CochinInternationalAirport was yet to resume operations.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is visiting Idukki to assess the magnitude of the disaster after the rains and landslips and decide on the relief package to compensate the devastation suffered by the high range district.

The government had already allotted Rs 84 crore for urgent relief works in Idukki and neighbouring districts. Rescuers, led by a team of National Disaster Relief Force, resumed search in the worst-affected Chiyyampara, where five persons were killed in a major landslip.

They are mainly looking for those who may have been trapped in vehicles buried under mounds of rubble, official sources said.Traffic has been partly restored in the National Highway linking Idukki with rest of the state, which remained blocked until Tuesday morning by flash flood and rubble spawned by a series of landslips.

The Cochin International Airport at nearby Nedumbassery was also shut on Monday as taxi bays and parking bays continue to be water-logged.

A report from Kochi said operations at the airport would commence by 3.30 pm on Tuesday. Airport Director A K C Nair said as of now there is no waterlogging and they were confident of operating flights from Tuesday evening.

Flight operations had been hit after the runway was closed on Monday as water inundated the airport runway, taxi bay and parking bay. Opening of the shutters of Idamalayar dam had led to rise in water level of Periyar river following which there was a reverse flow from the river through the drainages of the airport, which flows into the Periyar.

Flights arriving at Kochi had been diverted to Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode and many flights had also been cancelled, airport sources said. This is the first time that the runway of the airport was closed.

Nature's fury also inflicted a huge loss by way of crop loss in the area, inhabited mostly by small and marginal farmers. Some 20,000 people hit by incessant rains and floods have been shifted to relief camps in Idukki as well as Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur districts.

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