Thiruvananthapuram: The heavy rains that lashed Kerala over the last few days have lessened in intensity, even as the toll rose to 67 while over 2.54 lakh displaced people were in relief camps, the state government said on Sunday.
All the 14 districts in the state, except Kollam, have people taking shelter in over 1,600 relief camps. Malappuram district with over 54,000 people has the largest number of people in the camps.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that compared to last year's floods which ravaged the entire state, the intensity this time is not that bad and has affected fewer districts.
"In a big relief to those engaged in rescue efforts, the rains today appear to have come down," he said.
The worst-affected areas are Meppadi in Wayanad and Kavalapara in Malappuram. Various rescue teams are working hard to recover bodies of those trapped.
"As of now, eight people are still missing in Meppadi and with the rains subsiding, the rescue works are going on well. However, more rains are predicted in the coming days. All should be on high alert and be receptive to warnings," Vijayan said.
Earlier in the day, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who is the MP from Wayanad, reached Kozhikode and drove first to Kavalapara and visited a church where 360 people were taking shelter. He listened to their woes and assured them of all possible help.
Gandhi will be touring Wayanad on Monday where he is expected to visit a few relief camps and affected areas.
Meanwhile, Vijayan expressed anguish at the manner in which some sections are spreading rumours about contributions to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.
"This fund will be used only for the needs of the affected and not for anything else. Knowing well about this, it's unfortunate that some negative campaigns are currently on... what we have found out is that the origin of this is from outside our state. The media also has a role in this to ensure that these anti-social measures are curbed," he said.
"We have not yet asked for funds from the Centre and they are providing us all the support for the ongoing relief and rescue work," added Vijayan.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told the media that he has called on everyone to contribute to the fund generously.
The maximum deaths - 18 - were reported from Wayanad, while Malappuram, Palakkad, Idukki, and Kozhikode have also reported casualties.
"Today (Sunday) there is a red alert in Kannur, Kasargode and Wayanad and orange alerts in six other districts," Vijayan said.
The Chief Minister said despite heavy rains, the water level had increased only in three dams while water level at dams in Idukki and Pathanamthitta continue to be low.
Even while a few long distance trains were cancelled for the day, Railways were able to operate short distance ones in several sectors while in few other sectors, operations are expected to begin soon.
The Cochin International Airport that was closed a few days back, was also opened for service Sunday afternoon when the first flight landed.
"Operations have resumed and passengers can come for check-in according to the schedules," said an airport official.