With heavy rains lashing various parts of the state since Saturday night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday declared a red alert in central Kerala districts of Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur for the day.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a Facebook post, asked everyone to be extra vigilant in view of the risk of landslides and other hazards due to the unseasonal rainfall.
Authorities and the public need to be extra vigilant in the event of heavy rains in Kerala as part of the westerly winds, he said.
He said that people living in landslide and flood-prone areas will have to relocate to safer places or nearby relief camps as there is a possibility of widespread rains in the coming hours.
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The cleanliness of the camps, availability of food and a screening system for diseases should be ensured, he said.
Later, in a press release, the Chief Minister said that in a meeting of district collectors and officials it has been decided to limit the number of pilgrims to Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in the next three to four days due to the heavy rains.
The ritualistic bathing in the river Pampa will not be allowed as its levels were dangerously high, spot booking will be stopped for the time and changing dates of those who booked through virtual queue system will also be considered to control the flow of pilgrims, the release said.
The Chief Minister, in the release, also said that the Kakki dam has been opened.
The heavy rains led to water level in various dams in the state rising to the red alert mark, prompting the government to open one of the shutters of Cheruthoni dam of Idukki reservoir in the afternoon.
Shutter number 3 of Cheruthoni dam was raised by 40 centimetres at 2 PM after the water level in the reservoir reached 2398.94 feet, close to the red alert mark of 2399.03 feet.
Earlier in the day, due to the heavy rains, water level in various places along the Periyar river was seen to be rising, the state government said.
The heavy rains inundated roads in several parts of southern Kerala, which also saw landslides in some parts.
Adding to this, the Tamil Nadu government on Sunday morning announced that the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam reached 140 feet, indicating the likelihood of its shutters being also opened if the water continues to rise.
As a result, people living on both sides of the Periyar river should be extra vigilant as the shutters of the dam could be opened in the next 24 hours if water level rises further and there was a possibility that excess water would overflow, the Idukki district administration said earlier in the day.
At 3 PM, the water level in Mullaperiyar was 140.10 feet and as per the Supreme Court directions, Tamil Nadu can retain water in the reservoir up to the 142 feet mark.
The district administration of Pathanamthitta, which too received heavy rainfall, during the day has advised extreme caution, especially by those living close to river banks or landslide-prone areas.
It advised moving people in landslide and flood-prone areas to relief camps.
Visuals on news channels showed submerged roads in various parts of Pathanamthitta and Kollam districts, where an orange alert has been issued.
Incessant rains caused minor landslides and disruption of train services in some parts of Kerala on Saturday, prompting authorities to sound extreme caution in hilly areas, river sides and tourist centres.
The IMD on Saturday had predicted extremely heavy rains in Thiruvananthapuram, while very heavy rainfall was forecast for Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Idukki districts.
Thunderstorms coupled with lightning are also very likely to occur at one or two places in the state till November 16, according to the IMD.
A red alert indicates heavy to extremely heavy rains of over 20 cm in 24 hours, while orange alert denotes very heavy rains from 6 cm to 20 cm of rains. A yellow alert means heavy rainfall between 6 to 11 cm.