(Adding fresh details, CM's quotes) Thiruvananthapuram, May 15 (PTI): Torrential rains accompanied by fierce winds and high tidal waves wreaked havoc and claimed two lives in Kerala, as it lashed the state since last night forcing the government to shift hundreds of families to relief camps,sources said on Saturday.
The southernmost district,Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod in the northern tip, witnessed widespread uprooting of trees, water-logging and disruption of power supply since last night.
The Central Water Commission (CWC) issued flood warning to the state in the wake of rising water level in rivers like Manimala and Achankovil.
As the India Meteorological Department (IMD) sounded 'red alert', indicating the possibility of extremely heavy rainfall above 204 mm in 24 hours, in 9 districts, the entire state was put on high vigil.
The 'red alert', in view of the severe deep depression over Arabian sea, was issued in Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod district, according to the IMD.
High range and coastal belts in the central and northern districts, where houses and roads were rampantly destroyed and trees got uprooted widely, were the worst affected in the rain fury.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the impact of cyclone Tauktae was expected to last the next 24 hours in the state.
'Two days of torrential rains and strong winds have caused widespread destruction across the state. As per the IMD figures, Kerala received an average rainfall of 145.5 mm in the last two days alone,' he told reporters here.
Kochi and Peerumedu stations registered rainfall above 200 mm in the last 24 hours, he said.
Two deaths have been reported in the state in the last two days.
'Two persons drowned in Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts.Stepping into water bodies and crossing rivers should be avoided during the times of heavy rains and winds,' he said.
The CM also cautioned people to be vigilant against fierce winds in northern districts tonight under the impact of the cyclone.
On the CWC's flood warning, he said as it was not the rainy season in the state, there was no danger of floods, as of now.
However, directions have been issued to evacuate people from the flood-prone areas when necessary, he said, adding that as the big dams presently do not have large amounts of water, there was no need to be panic over that.
Meanwhile, to ensure the safety of people, night travel in high range Idukki district was completely banned from 7.00 pm today by the district administration.
As the water level in major rivers like Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala was rising steadily, authorities cautioned people living on its banks to be vigilant.
The shutters of the Kallarkutty and Malankara dams in Idukki and Bhoothathankettu dam in Ernakulam were opened and that of the Maniyar in Pathanamthitta and Aruvikkara here were raised as a precautionary measure following high inflow in the catchment area.
Heavy rains and gusty winds, accompanied by extensive sea incursion, continued to cause widespread destruction in the coastal hamlets of Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram districts.
Valiyathura pier, one of the oldest sea bridges in the state located here, developed a crack in the strong winds which hit the shores since last night.
A portion of the over 200 metre-long structure, which offers a breathtaking view of the sea, seemed tilted to a side in the morning, locals said.
Besides Chellanam in Ernakulam district, rough sea and high tidal waves wreaked havoc in Kaipamangalam, Chavakkad and Kodungallur in Thrissur, Pallithura in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrikkannapuzha in Alappuzha and Beypore and Koyilandy in Kozhikode districts.
Hundreds of houses were damaged in coastal belts across the state as sea water seeped in following high waves.
The Chief Minister said at least 9 districts have been severely affected by the sea incursion.
A large number of people were shifted to relief camps in various districts, arranged in adherence to COVID protocol.
As many as 1,128 people, belonging to 293 families, were moved to relief camps in the capital district Thiruvananthapuram alone, official sources said.
Urging people to show no reluctance to move to relief camps during emergencysituations, the Chief Minister said everyone should follow COVID protocol including wearing masks and practicingsocial distancing norms there.
According to figures, 71 relief camps have been opened in the state this month, where over 2,000 people are staying, he added.PTI LGK BN BALA BN BALA