Kochi airport closure affects thousands of Qatar-based passengers

Hugh Fox
August 16, 2018

Unceasing torrential rains continued to batter Kerala on Wednesday killing eight more people and taking the death toll to 47 since August 8, and forcing authorities to shut down Kochi worldwide airport till Saturday after water gushed inside the airport area.

An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday, resulting in 28 more deaths and more destruction and forcing authorities to issue a red alert across the southern state.

The open shutters of the Cheruthoni and Idamalayar dams have sent the river into a deadly spate which has been continuing for the last few days.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office announced on Twitter that Kochi's global airport - the main gateway to the region - would be closed until Saturday "due to heavy rains and resultant flooding".

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Eleven deaths were reported from Malappuram alone, officials said.

The state government said that Onam celebrations at the Kerala Raj Bhavan stand cancelled and the funds will instead for used for relief and rehabilitation of those affected by the floods.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan demanded the intervention of Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami to reduce the water level of Mullaperiyar Dam to 139 ft.

A government release said Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the grave situation the state was facing following the rains.

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"We made a decision to take this step because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters".

The IMD has issued red alerts in all districts today and in seven districts on Thursday.

"Many of them are now perched on terraces as hours up to first storey are flooded and water level is still rising". Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps. The Cochin International Airport has suspended all flight operations till Saturday.

Cochin International Airport's official website showed that several flights had been diverted, cancelled and indefinitely delayed. The airport is near Periyar river bank which has swollen after water discharge from the dam. "The neighbouring states have been helping us and we need their help in the future too", added the chief minister.

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Gupta said the water level in the river rose suddenly Wednesday because of monsoon rains in the area, about 460 kilometres (285 miles) south of New Delhi. Traffic has been stopped in Kuthiaran region connecting Thrissur-Palakkad on Salem-Kochi national highway.

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