The public transport system collapsed in many parts of central Kerala with the Southern Railways and Kochi Metro suspending their operations on Thursday due to the raging floods. The Kerala floods have claimed 79 lives in all since August 8, according to official figures.

Rise in flood waters in Periyar river due to continuous rains and opening of all shutters of all major dams including Mullaperiyar, Cheruthoni, part of Idukki reservoir, and Idamalayar, have severely hit life of people in the downstream areas.

Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan Pinarayi is learnt to have spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought more helicopters, central forces personnel for rescue operation. The prime minister has assured more help to the state.

The floods have affected the transport system in the Kochi city.

“Due to rise in water level at Bridge No 176 on Downline between Angamali and Aluva, The services on this bridge is suspended,” a Southern railway spokesman said in a statement early on Thursday.

The Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) also suspended its operations this morning after its yard in Muttom near Aluva submerged in the flood waters.

“Kochi Metro train operation is suspended as the water level rises in Muttom yard area,” a KMRL statement said.

The service will be resumed once the water comes down and the systems are back in good condition, its spokesperson said.

Bus services to Kochi were also affected after National Highways connecting the city submerged in Kalamassery area, officials said.

According to media reports, Idukki district is one of the worst hit districts in Kerala thousands of people stranded in Idukki as it has been cut off from mainland with roads along the hillrange washed away or damaged in landslides and communication networks down due to floods.

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Union Minister of State for Information Technology and Tourism Alphons Kannanthanam, who met PM Modi on Wednesday to discuss the floods in Kerala, will visit Trivandrum today evening to meet concerned authorities for any coordination. The minister will be available at Trivandrum Secretariat and Disaster Management Rescue office for all assistance.

A red alert was issued on Wednesday in 11 of the 14 districts. These are Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam. A ‘red alert’ means huge devastation is expected.

The Cochin airport, one of the three international airports in the state and the busiest of all, has been shut till Saturday as flood waters from the swelling Periyar river entered the complex.

Airport Director ACK Nair called the development “unprecedented”.

“Why we decided to take this step is because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the waters to our operational area,” he said.

Nair pointed out that it was decided to close down the airport operations since more rains were predicted.

Thrissur, Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts are on orange alert, where authorities and people have been asked to be prepared as there is a higher likelihood of bad weather.