Altogether 23 people have lost their lives in the twin landslides in Koottikkal and Kokkayar, the border towns between Idukki and Kottayam districts, as well as flash floods in other parts of Kerala. Sixteen bodies have been recovered so far and search for the remaining ones is on.
The operations were hampered by intermittent rains, but successfully completed in Koottikkal, where 11 bodies have been recovered. Six bodies were found in the debris in Kokkayar, and search is continuing for a child, presumed dead along with all the five other members of a family.
The scene of action is gradually shifting northwards, with the water level in all the northern and coastal districts rising as the floods recede in the east.
The low-pressure cyclonic formation over the state has weakened, signalling the end of torrential rains. But the weather office has warned of more showers for four days from Wednesday.
Heart-rending scenes of onlookers screaming at the sight of an entire bungalow caving in, bridges being washed away and some others becoming a graveyard of uprooted trees and all kinds of debris, are being played out on television.
People are recounting with a sense of eerie how they escaped in the nick of time, leaving behind all valuables. Some others said they are happy they survived, but their lives have been destroyed. Houses and shops have been inundated with mud, while their entire contents have been swept away.
A wailing woman is seen pointing to a heap of sand and mud where her house stood once. She lost her husband and child in a jiffy as flash floods flattened everything in its way.
The most touching story was of a woman named Fousy, who shot a video of the gushing waters and sent it to a relative on WhatsApp. The video also showed her two children. But in an instant, the flash flood changed course and devoured her house, along with her entire family of five, including herself.
Massive evacuation efforts are on in other parts of the state, where raising of dam shutters is causing all major rivers to swell. The rescue and evacuation drive has been joined by units of disaster management force, navy, army, fire force and local self-defence teams.
The state government has declared an ex gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh each for families of those who perished. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is constantly reviewing the situation, while ministers belonging to the affected areas are coordinating the operations at the ground level.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Vijayan and discussed the situation. Later, in a tweet, Modi expressed his anguish and prayed for the affected families.
Home Minister Amit Shah, meanwhile, has promised all assistance to the state government in dealing with the situation.