Trial by water

The last thing Varghese Thalikaparambil, 72, probably saw on that Thursday night of apocalyptic rain was water cascading into his house at Manikandanchal, on the banks of the Pooyamkutty river —a tributary of the mighty Periyar in Kuttampuzha panchayat along the eastern border of Kerala’s Ernakulam district. It was August 9. The fast-swelling river denied him an early burial. Shortly after he was moved from his flooded house to the relative safety of a church nearby, the waters came for him. His body had to be put on stacks of tables and beds before a few brave men took it across the ferocious currents on a makeshift raft the next morning. By then, just over an hour’s drive from there, water from the Idamalayar reservoir had already cut loose, through four spillways, into the Bhoothathankettu barrage downstream to gnaw at the densely-populated suburban regions of of Aluva, Paravur and Kodungalloor.

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