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Rains claim 26 lives in Kerala, dams opened 

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 9

Heavy rains pounding Kerala triggered a series of landslides in the hilly Idukki district and northern parts, killing 26 people since last night with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today describing the situation as ‘very grim’.The Army and National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in affected areas in Idukki, Kozhikode, Waynad and Malappuram districts to assist the civil administration in the rescue operations, officials said.State Disaster Control Room sources said 26 people have died in rain-related incidents since yesterday with 17 of them being killed in landslides in Idukki and Malapuram districts. With several rivers in spate following the incessant rains, 24 dams in different parts of the state have been opened in an ‘unprecedented’ development.A red alert has been sounded ahead of the impending release of water from the Idukki reservoir, the largest arch dam in Asia.The incessant rains also disrupted landing operations at the international airport in Kochi for nearly two hours in view of the possible inundation in the airport area following a rising water level in the Periyar river, flowing nearby.The Kerala State Electricity Board, which maintains the Idukki dam, issued the red alert saying the shutters of the reservoir would be opened at 6 am tomorrow and asked people living downstream to be “extremely vigilant”. 

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