At least 29 people have lost their lives in Kerala owing to the incessant rains triggering overflowing of reservoirs and rivers in the state.
Sections of highways collapsed and homes were swept away in severe flooding in more than half of Kerala due to the heavy rains that have left 54,000 people homeless.
Five columns of Army were deployed in the state's seven severely-hit northern districts, out of Kerala's 14, to help evacuate people and to build makeshift bridges even as the Indian Navy's southern command was put on alert after water level in Periyar river rose amid concern that parts of Wellingdon Island in Kochi could be inundated.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will undertake a survey of the flood affected areas in Kerala on Sunday, a Home Ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying by PTI.
Almost all 40-odd rivers in the state are in spate, according to the officials of the state.
Northern and central Kerala have been battered by heavy rains of the Southwest monsoon since August 8, which has left 29 people dead, including three today. Of them, 25 died in landslides and four in drowning. State officials said a total of 53,501 people are now housed in 439 relief camps across the state.
Water level had crossed the maximum storage capacity of reservoirs of 24 out of the state's 58 dams, forcing officials to release the water by opening the sluice gates, including three of the Idukki reservoir. Two more shutters of the Cheruthoni dam, part of the Idukki reservoir, the biggest arch dam in Asia, were lifted around 7 am today.
One shutter was opened yesterday after a gap of 26 years.
This morning, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reviewed the flood situation and relief works being undertaken by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF.
Due to the increase in the water level at Idukki dam, "it is essential to release water three times (more) than what was being released now", Vijayan said, adding that this will lead to rise in the water levels of Periyar river and its tributaries. He appealed to people to be vigilant.
Vijayan has cancelled all his public functions till August 12, and will monitor the situation from the state capital.
The Indian Navy has put on alert its Southern Naval Command in view of the rising water level in Periyar river in Kerala following heavy rains that have wreaked havoc in the state.
The incessant rains have created the danger of a possible inundation of parts of Wellingdon Island, surrounded by the backwaters of Kochi.
According to a defence spokesperson, the Navy has made preparations to meet any situation arising out of the possible inundation of the island, said to be the largest artificial island in the country, following the opening of shutters of three dams of Cheruthoni, Idamalayar and Kakki.
“We will take all necessary steps to ensure that important installations in the island are not affected,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Friday said that nearly 60 tourists, including foreigners, stranded at Idukki resort are safe.
In a Facebook post, Surendran said that 24 foreigners and 33 domestic tourists were holed up at the resort after the area was cut off from the outside world following landslides in the wake of heavy rains in the past two days.
"We have sought the help of the Army and other agencies (for evacuation). Of these tourists, four Russians and an American couple expressed the desire to move out and were evacuated from a different route. It was a bit of an exercise.
"Others present there said that they are prepared to wait as rescue agencies have undertaken construction of a motorable road for vehicles to ferry them out," the Minister said.
The state government has advised tourists not to proceed to Idukki due to heavy rains.
Watch: Devastating visuals of massive flood across country
According to eminent scientist and former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair, the monsoon fury in Kerala might be a part of "global phenomena" but local factors like deforestation and "invasion" of mountain slopes contributed significantly to flash floods and landslips in the state.
He said from the statistics point of view, this week's rainfall was a "peak" of the last 50 years, and was an "unusual phenomena" and could not be attributed to any systematic change.
"Also, in many parts of Europe and other places, heat wave is going on. Maybe it (rain fury in Kerala) is part of global phenomena, it is my assessment," Nair, who hails from Kerala, said.
The incessant heavy downpour has wreaked havoc in Kerala as the toll due to landslides and other rain-related incidents continued to mound on Friday. As heavy rains continued to lash various parts of Kerala, all five shutters of the Cheruthoni Dam, part of the Idukki Reservoir, were opened today as the bridge in the town, connecting north and south Idukki district, has been flooded due to incessant heavy rainfall in the region.
For the first time in the last 26 years, a shutter of the Cheruthoni Dam was opened yesterday and rest four were opened today.
The full reservoir level is 2,403 feet and storage capacity is 69,268 Mcft and storage percentage is 97.61 per cent. The South-west monsoon has been vigorous over Kerala resulting in heavy rains in various parts of the state since the past two days.
So far 26 people have been killed, including 11 in high range Idukki in landslips yesterday as rain continued to pound the southern state. Around 60 people are stranded in a resort in Munnar after the roads to the resort got blocked due to a landslide.
Idukki has received 129.80 mm rainfall.
With water levels rising in various dams and reaching almost maximum capacity, shutters of at least 22 reservoirs in the state have been opened to drain out excess water.
According to state disaster control room sources, 241 relief camps have been opened and 15,695 people have been shifted from low-lying areas.
Over 5,500 people from Wayanad district, where a red alert had been sounded yesterday, have been shifted to relief camps, the sources said this morning.
In Ernakulam, 3,456 people have been shifted to camps following floods after 4 shutters of the Idamalayar dam were opened yesterday.
According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin at 8 am, thunderstorms accompanied by gusty winds are likely to affect Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad districts.
Army's help sought
The Kerala government has sought the Army's help to control and situation and cap the large-scale damage reported from various parts of the state.
A team of the Army's Military Engineering Group is set to arrive at Kozhikode and Ernakulam, officials said, adding that some Army officers from Kannur had already reached the flooded Wayanad.
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force have left Chennai for Kerala. An inter-ministerial Central team is visiting the flood-ravaged area and Army support is also being mobilized from Bengaluru, the statement said.
Karnataka rushes relief materials to flood-hit Kerala
Karnataka is rushing Rs 10 crore worth relief materials to the neighbouring flood-hit Kerala following heavy monsoon rains, said an official statement on Thursday. "Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy directed state Chief Secretary TM Vijaya Bhaskar to rush relief materials and a team of doctors to Kerala, reeling under heavy rains and flash floods," said the statement.
On Kerala's request, the state government has also agreed to release 75,000 cusecs of water from Kabini reservoir in Mysuru districts to tackle the flash floods caused by excessive backwaters across the border in Kerala. As one of the tributaries, Kabini originates in the Waynad district and flows eastward to join the Cauvery river at T Narasipura in Karnataka.
"Kumaraswamy also called on his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the flood situation in that state. He also offered more relief material and aid to the affected people across the state," added the statement.
PM Modi speaks to CM Pinarayi Vijayan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the state, and offered all possible assistance to those affected.
"Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the situation arising due to floods in various parts of the state. Offered all possible assistance to those affected. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Kerala in the wake of this calamity," the PM said in a tweet.
US issues advisory against travel to Kerala
The US has issued an advisory, asking its citizens not to visit Kerala because of the flash floods in the state. In the advisory, the US said the heavy southwest monsoon rains triggered landslides and floods in the state, and American citizens should avoid visiting all affected areas in the state.
"Avoid all areas throughout Kerala affected by landslides and flash floods," it read.
Kerala, dubbed as God's own country, is a global tourist destination.
The situation is 'pretty bad': Min
Power Minister MM Mani, who is from Idukki, said the situation in the district was "pretty bad". "The shutters of the Idamalyar dam were opened. We will open a shutter of the Idukki dam also," he said.
The capacity of the Idukki dam is 2,403 meters. At 12.30 pm, when the water level crossed 2,399 meters after a gap of 26 years, one shutter of the dam was opened. "At the moment everything is under control," said Idukki legislator Roshy Augustine.
The Malampuzha dam, which was opened a few days, sent out waters which have created havoc in certain areas of Palghat, which borders Tamil Nadu. Water has entered houses in many low-lying areas of the district.
(With inputs from agencies)