GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Heavy Rains And Landslides Claim 14 Lives In Kerala, India – Severe Weather Forces Closure Of Cochin International Airport!

August 06, 2013 – INDIA - Fourteen persons died and several reported missing in landslips triggered by heavy rain in high range Idukki and adjoining districts of Kerala on Monday, forcing closure of Cochin International Airport as the runway was water-logged.

Several persons were reported missing as a huge mound of rock and rubble came crashing down at
Chiyyappara in Idukki while relief work was on in the area

Eight contingents of the army and national disaster relief force have been called to speed up relief and rescue operations in Idukki and Aluva areas near Kochi where Periyar river is overflowing.

After reviewing the situation, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said 11 casualties were reported from Idukki district where 10 persons are still missing. Relief operations have been hampered since roads in Idukki were seriously damaged after 18 landslips had occurred since Sunday night.

Chandy said 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. The government has allotted Rs 84 crore for urgent relief works in affected areas.

While nine lives were lost in landslips, five persons engaged in relief work were killed as a huge block of rock and rubble came crashing down on them at Chiyyampara near Adimali. Rescuers are still removing the debris using earthmovers as more people are feared to be trapped under the rubble, police said.

The sandbanks of Periyar river in Aluva, where thousands are to converge to perform the ‘Balitharpanam’ ritual on Tuesday, the day of ‘Karkitakavavu’, is flooded and the Shiva temple there almost submerged. The district administration is seeking possibilities of alternative arrangements for the conduct of the ritual.

The Cochin International airport at nearby Nedumbassery will remain closed to traffic till Tuesday evening as taxi bays and parking bays continue to be water logged. The airport has been closed till 3.30pm on Tuesday, Airport Director A K C Nair said.

Though water-logging in the runway has been reduced, taxi-bays and parking bays still remained water-logged. Air India Express sources told PTI that at least 20-25 domestic flights and an equal number of international flights have been affected due to the closure of the airport. AIE cancelled its Kochi-Doha-Bahrain via Kozhikode and Kochi-Kuwait via Mangalore flights from Kochi and the passengers have been asked to re-book after two days. All incoming flights have been diverted to Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode and departures from Kochi have been cancelled the sources added.

On Monday morning, the Saudi Airlines flight from Kochi was diverted to Chennai and the Spicejet Mumbai-Kochi flight to Coimbatore. Heavy rains continue to lash many parts of the state and IMD has cautioned fishermen against venturing into the sea as heavy winds are expected to blow along coastal areas in the next 48 hours.

The government has decided to grant Rs 2 lakh as compensation to each of the families of those killed in rain-related incidents. The government would take a decision on the compensation to be paid for the loss of property and crops, Chandy said. Meanwhile, IMD said in its forecast that heavy rainfall exceeding 7 cm to very heavy rainfall exceeding 13 cm will occur at isolated places over Kerala till the morning of August 7. In Ernakulam district, 76 relief camps have been opened so far. While 221 houses were partially damaged, 22 were destroyed. Authorities have decided to construct ‘Bali tharas’ on the roadside near the Shiva temple to enable devotees perform ‘Balitharpanam’ on the occasion of ‘Vavu Bali’ on Tuesday. About 367.7 hectares of crop area have been affected, official sources said. – Rediff.

DELUGE AFTERMATH: Natural Disasters’ Effects on the Lives of People – Cyclone-Hit Indians Will Take "Years" to Rebuild Livelihoods; 51 Killed; Millions Affected; 300,000 Homes Damaged; Countless Crops Destroyed; Widespread Power Outages;…

It could take “years” for hundreds of thousands of people in southeastern India to rebuild their livelihoods after a devastating cyclone wiped out their entire plantations of cash crops last month, aid workers warned on Tuesday.

Cyclone Thane killed 51 people when it struck the Indian state of Tamil Nadu around dawn on December 30. The storm disrupted the lives of more than one million people, flattening homes, destroying crops and causing power outages for days. With wind speeds of up to 135 kmph (83 mph) and tidal surges reaching 1.5 metres (5 feet), the cyclone forced coastal fishing and farming communities into relief shelters. But as work gets underway to repair damaged homes, aid workers say there are longer-term concerns over how farming communities, in particular, will survive. “While some rice paddy has been lost, that is not such a problem as that can be re-planted the next season,” Joseph Sahayam, from the Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), said by phone from Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s state capital.

“The issue is the slow-growing crops like coconut trees, jackfruit and cashews – these take many years to grow so farmers will need some kind of support to help them generate an income to keep them going until then.” Thane moved in from the Bay of Bengal making landfall around dawn that day, primarily lashing the coastal district of Cuddalore and the former French colonial town of Pondicherry. Gale winds brought down telephone and power lines and uprooted trees and benches along Pondicherry’s tree-lined boulevards and promenade, while tidal waves smashed into low-lying mud-and-thatch villages along the coast.

According to recent assessments, more than 300,000 homes have been damaged, hundreds of livestock killed and rural roads damaged. The government is providing compensation to cyclone-hit communities, but local communities say it is not enough. Aid workers say alternative livelihood projects will need to be put in place, which would be able to give quick returns. Cash-for-work programmes such as the Indian government’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) – which guarantees 100 days of work at a fixed rate for unskilled labourers – is a likely solution. “Most of these communities were already living below the poverty line,” said Stephen Ryan, communication delegate for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in India. “The challenges faced in these affected districts have only been exasperated by this disaster and a long-term solution will need to be found that will go beyond the assistance and work of humanitarian organisations.”Reuters.

WATCH: Cyclone Thane causes major damage.

DELUGE: Torrential Rains Lashes Southern Kerala, India – Five Persons, Including Two Children Have Been Killed!

Five persons, including two children, were reported dead and one person missing from Thiruvananthapuram district as torrential rain lashed the southern districts of the State from Friday evening.

Adityan, 4, was reportedly swept away by the swirling waters of a canal at Vayalikkada in the capital city. His father, Kalesh, 35, who tried to save the boy is reported missing. At Manamboor in Chirayanakeezhu taluk, three-year-old Ammu and her grandmother Lalithambika, 70, were electrocuted in the compound of their house. The capital city soaked in 18 cm of rain till 8.30 a.m. on Saturday and 22 cm of rain till 5.30 p.m. As storm water canals that crisscross the city and the Killi and Karamana rivers were in spate, low-lying areas were inundated early on Saturday morning. Five hundred families were shifted to nine relief camps. While 48 houses were partially damaged, three were destroyed in the rain. In Kollam, there was power supply disruption in many parts. The district experienced heavy rainfall beginning Friday afternoon. The heavy rain continued till Saturday afternoon.

Incessant rains in the forests of Pathanamthitta district caused much hardship to Sabarimala pilgrims on Saturday. The Pampa river swelled with heavy inflow from the catchment areas upstream. The police issued warnings to pilgrims and shopkeepers at the Pampa Manalpuram on Friday evening about possible flash floods in the event of landslides in the forests. No vehicle was permitted at the parking lots on the river banks at the Pampa-Triveni on Friday and Saturday.

Pilgrims trekked the hills of Neelimala and Appachimedu braving the downpour. The police periodically blocked the pilgrims at Pampa, Sabaripeedhom, Marakkoottom, and Saramkuthy. The pilgrims had little option but to wait in the rains with the drenched bundle ‘Irumudikkettu’ inside the packed iron barricades for hours together. Many pilgrims were stranded at the Sannidhanam owing to shortage of sufficient shelters. Most shelters at Sabarimala were occupied by Friday afternoon itself. Accumulation of waste, and stench emanating from it, was another problem at Sabarimala as waste removal too was affected by the incessant rains. In Kochi, unexpected rain held up traffic and temporarily hit the annual, year-end, Cochin Carnival on Fort Kochi beach on Saturday. A spokesman for the Cochin Carnival said that swimming, a favourite among competitions, was cancelled.  – The Hindu.

EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Cyclone Thane Devastates Southern India – 46 Dead as 125kph Winds and Tidal Surges of 1.5 Metres Brought Down Trees, Walls and Power Lines!

Tropical Cyclone Thane left 46 people dead as it moved over southern India yesterday. 

A day after Cyclone Thane crossed the Tamil Nadu coast, leaving 46 people dead in south India, life was limping back to normal yesterday in the worst affected Cuddalore district. However, people had to usher in the New Year in darkness. At least 46 people have died in the south — 35 in Tamil Nadu, four in Kerala and seven in Puducherry — due to electrocution, falling of trees and collapsing roofs or walls. “Major roads are being cleared of uprooted trees and traffic is being resumed. People are returning to their homes or going to the homes of their relatives from relief camps. Life is coming back to normal,” Cuddalore Deputy Superintendent of Police S. Vanitha said. Several trees, street lampposts and electric poles were uprooted on Friday at Cuddalore by the cyclone that packed a wind speed of 140km/h when it crossed the coast. “There is no power in the district which in turn is making supply of water at homes a problem. We are not able to draw water from the wells though supply of milk was there this [Saturday] morning,” a housewife in Cuddalore said.

J. Kannan, another Cuddalore resident, said: “For bachelors like me, life is difficult as hotels have not opened and shopkeepers are charging astronomical prices even for biscuit packets. A litre of milk is sold at Rs50 (Dh 3.36) — more than double the rates charged normally. A candle costing Rs2 is now sold at Rs10. There is no power in the district and the shopkeepers are making hay while the sun shines,” he said. Officials said it would take at least two days to restore power supply in the district as most of the electric poles have been uprooted by the wind. Banking operations in the district have also been affected in the absence of power.  “ATMs [Automatic Teller Machines] do not work. Further, as it is the month-end, people will be in need of money,” an official of a public sector bank told IANS. “Glass panes were shattered and DTH [direct-to-home] antennas were blown away by the wind. Strong winds blew away tiled and thatched roofs of houses,’ he added. Most people said the wind intensity was so terrifying that nobody was able to step out Friday morning. In Tamil Nadu, the coastal Cuddalore district reported 21 deaths while other deaths were from Villupuram (2), Tiruvallur (2) and Chennai (1). Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha on Friday ordered release of Rs1.50 billion towards relief and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure in the state.Gulf News.

Lashing rains and gale force winds are bearing down on India’s southeastern coast, disrupting power supplies and communication lines as Cyclone Thane makes landfall near the industrial city of Chennai, officials said. Packing wind speeds of up to 125kph, and accompanied by tidal surges of up to 1.5m, Thane hit Tamil Nadu state on Friday, killing at least eleven people and causing coastal villagers to move to relief shelters. “Under the influence of this system, rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls would occur,” the Indian Meteorological Department said. “Gale wind speed reaching 120kph to 130kph gusting to 145kmph is likely along and off north Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry coasts during next three hours and then decrease gradually.” Witnesses in Chennai and Pondicherry said trees had been toppled, there had been power outages throughout the night and disruption to phone and internet services in some areas. Hundreds of people from fishing communities along north Tamil Nadu’s coast, and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state, have moved to schools set up as relief centres until the weather system passes. “Making relief efforts diffuclt, roads are blocked because of heavy rainfall, trains were canceled and international flights also canceled,” Al Jazeera’s Prerna Suri said. “They had about 24 hours to prepare, unlike with other storms. So evacuation shelters are in place,” our correspondent said. “Eight teams from the disaster management force are deployed from New Delhi, with some 15,000 people put on high alert.” India’s cyclone season generally lasts from April to December, with severe storms often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people from low-lying villages and widespread crop and property damage. In 1999, a “super-cyclone” battered the coast of the eastern state of Orissa for 30 hours with wind speeds reaching 300kph, killing 10,000 people.Al Jazeera.

WATCH: Cyclone Thane causes major damage.

WATCH: Tracking Cyclone Thane and a new development near the southern parts of the Philippines.

WATCH: Cyclone Thane weakens – relief operations underway.

WATCH: Cyclone hit Southern India.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Four Tons of Dead Fish in Three Days in Ahmedabad, India – Authorities from the Health Ministry Rush to Nearby Pond to Unravel the Mystery?!

The fisheries, forest and health departments of Ahmedabad district swung into action on Friday after receiving reports of fish dying en masse in a pond near Kerala, a village located 38 km from Ahmedabad. According to sarpanch of the village, at least four tonnes of fish has died over the last three days.

Teams from these departments visited the pond, collected samples and asked villagers not to consume dead fish or draw water from the reservoir. “We noticed some dead fish, small and some weighing up to five kg, washed ashore on Wednesday night. The next morning, there were piles of them and it continued on Thursday and Friday,” sarpanch Subhas Thakar told The Indian Express.

The natural pond is right at the foot of the village with a population of around 7,000 and is spread over five acres. It is 30-feet deep at some points and fresh water remains round the year. Its banks are lined by a rice mill, a bearing factory and farms, the sarpanch said, adding fishing is not allowed there. “We informed authorities after problem seemed to grow serious on Thursday,” Thakor said. “Tat and wild fish are dying probably due to sudden drop in the oxygen level in water of the pond. Sometimes, the oxygen level goes down due to overcast condition and it is a short-term phenomenon. However, we will come to know the real cause only after tests are done and reports are filed,” Vallabh Rupani, in-charge assistant director at the fisheries department, Ahmedabad district, said.

A team of the department visited the site and was expected to file a report on Saturday, Rupani added. A team of health officials also visited the site on Thursday. “We have given written instructions to the Kerala sarpanch to tell villagers not to eat the fish being washed ashore. It can endanger their health,” Bavla Block Health Officer (BHO) Dr Alpesh Gangani said. However, the sarpanch said that despite the instructions, residents of surrounding villages collected dead fish, especially the larger ones, and sold them in Bavla.

Ahmedabad district health officer Dr NJ Patel said the situation was under control.A team of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) also visited the pond and collected samples of water on Thursday. “We have collected samples from three different parts of the pond and after analysing the results of the sample tests, we would be able to know if there is contamination or any pollutants in the water,” C A Shah, GPCB Regional officer in Gandhinagar, said.

A team of Ahmedabad district forest officials also went to Kerala to take stock of the situation, District Forest Officer Raman Murhty said. The sarpanch said the phenomenon was unusual and government officials expressed fear that the effluent released by nearby industrial units might have contaminated waters and led to the death of fish. However, Rupani said overpopulation of fish could be a reason. “Tat and wild fish breed twice a year. On the other hand, in such ponds, panchayats do not allow fishing on religious grounds. This leads to overpopulation and sometimes to such phenomena. A similar incident had happened in a village in Mehasana in 2010,” he said. - Indian Express.

THE DELUGE: Major Roads Submerged in India from Rains & Floods!

The flood situation in the Upper Kuttanad villages of Peringara, Niranom, Kadapra and Nedumpram in India, improved with the rainfall easing off on Tuesday. However, major rural roads such as the Cyclemukku-Theveri road and the Kadapra-Viyapuram link highway remained submerged in the floodwaters, disrupting vehicular traffic for the third consecutive day on Tuesday. Waterlogging has affected plantain farms in many places.

The Information and Public Relations Department, in a statement here on Tuesday, said the loss to property and agriculture in the district was estimated at Rs.23.97 lakh as on Monday. Unofficial reports peg the damage at Rs.5 crore. Many settlement colonies, including Kazhuppil colony near Alamthuruthy and Mundappally colony in Peringara panchayat, remained isolated. Many parts of Upper Kuttanad were experiencing scarcity of potable water owing to contamination of wells. Water supply through the pipelines of the Kerala Water Authority was irregular, reportedly owing to technical problems. Many houses built on the fringes of paddy fields were damaged. Destruction of standing crops, especially plantains, was a major cause for worry for the farming community. Power supply to certain areas remained disrupted for the second day on Tuesday. As many as 39 people have been shifted from different parts of Upper Kuttanad to the relief camp opened at CMS High School, Thukalasserry, near Thiruvalla, official sources said.The Hindu