Tourists rescued in Munnar

A submerged car tied to a tree in flood-hit Wayanad district of Kerala on Thursday. (PTI)

Bangalore: Foreign and domestic tourists were evacuated from a Munnar hotel after being stranded at the Kerala hill resort for a day following a landslide that blocked the main entry and exit points to the facility.

Of the 57 tourists who have been moved to safety, 24 are foreigners. Those putting up at Hotel Plum Judy were moved out through an alternative route through a tea garden and taken to airports and railway stations.

Among the foreigners were families from Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, and couples from Russia and the US. Incidentally, the US embassy had issued a flood alert and asked its citizens to stay away from affected areas in Kerala.

A hotel staff told The Telegraph that the domestic tourists were from Kerala, Delhi and Rajasthan.

"We arranged cabs for all the tourists and moved them to their destinations of choice," front office staff Anksuman Goswami said over phone from Munnar, about 140km from Kochi and 1,500 meters above sea level.

A native of Tezpur in Assam, Goswami said none of the 33 domestic guests were from Bengal. "We have one more front office person from Jorhat (Assam) and a female staffer from Arunachal Pradesh. All the others are from Kerala," he said.

The hotel's sales and marketing manager told this newspaper that the facility was well stocked with food and water. "We are always well stocked to take care of a full house for several days," said Nibin K. Anand.

He said only 25 of the 60 rooms were occupied when the landslides blocked the road.

Among the most popular tourist destinations in Kerala, Munnar received 6.28 lakh visitors in 2017-18, 34.31 per cent more than the number the year before.

Aluva town in Ernakulam is facing a repeat of the 2013 flood as an in-spate Periyar river submerged the local Shiva temple. This has left the district authorities in a quandary as the annual " vavu bali" (a ritual for the departed) falls on Saturday.

As thousands perform the ritual every year along the banks of the Periyar near the temple, the authorities are making alternative arrangements at places that have not been flooded.

Orders have been issued to police not to allow anyone near the river. More than 50 CRPF personnel have arrived at Aluva to help the police.

The death toll in rain-wracked Kerala rose to 27 on Friday as one man died in a landslide in Idukki.

Heavy rain in the high ranges forced the authorities to release water from two more dams. Cheruthoni dam in Idukki, which had opened one of its five shutters on Thursday, lifted the remaining four as the inflow increased because of torrential rain.

Since the dam had last opened all five shutters in 1987, a large number of people gathered to witness the spectacle.

Gushing waters from the reservoirs caused flooding in several towns and villages downstream as the water powered its way towards the Arabian Sea via Aluva.

The heavy currents washed away a part of a bus terminus in Cheruthoni town and several houses and shops along the banks.


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