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Kerala floods: Over 300 killed, thousands displaced

NEW DELHI, August 17, 2018

At least 324 people have been killed in flooding in the southern Indian state of Kerala in what local officials say is the worst flooding in 100 years.
 
India's monsoon season started in June, but the death toll in Kerala has soared in the last 24 hours, said local media reports.
 
The flood situation in Kerala continues to remain precarious. The deadliest deluge in close to a century has dealt a severe blow to the scenic state, wrecking its tourism industry, destroying standing crops in thousands of hectares and inflicting huge damage to infrastructure, reported PTI. 
 
Personnel of the three services, besides the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) resumed the gigantic task of evacuating people stranded on rooftops, highlands where hills came crashing down blocking roads and cutting them off the rest of the world, and those marooned in villages that have turned into islands.
 
Rescuers are battling torrential rains to save residents, with more than 200,000 people left homeless in camps.
 
Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has described the flooding as the worst the state has seen in a century.
 
"We are witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala," he told reporters.
 
Vijayan said more than 223,000 people were now living in the more than 1,500 emergency relief camps set up in the area.
 
Parts of Kerala's commercial capital, Cochin, are underwater, snaring up roads and leaving railways across the state impassable.
 
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rushed to the crisis-hit state to take stock of the situation. He will undertake an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas on Saturday. 
 
The country's home minister has also offered his support.
 
"Had a telephonic conversation with Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan regarding the prevailing flood situation in the state. The Centre is rushing additional NDRF teams to Kerala. We are providing all possible assistance. I am in constant touch with Kerala CM," Singh said in his tweet.
 
The state government said many of those who died were crushed under debris caused by landslides.
 
With more rains predicted and a red alert in place, Kerala's main airport is expected to remain shut until 26 August, reported BBC.
 
Hundreds of troops have been deployed to rescue those caught up in the flooding.
 
Helicopters have been airlifting people marooned by the flooding to safety, with photographs and footage emerging from the area showing elderly people and children being rescued.
 
More than 300 boats are also involved in rescue attempts, AFP news agency reports.
 
The government has urged people not to ignore evacuation orders, and is distributing food to tens of thousands who have fled to higher ground.
 
The Indian home ministry says more than 930 people have now died across India since the country's monsoon season began.
 
The Kerala chief minister has said the state has "never seen anything like this before"
 
The state's airport is a hub for domestic and overseas tourists, so its closure is likely to cause major disruption.
 
Some local plantations are reported to have been inundated by water, endangering the local rubber, tea, coffee and spice industries.
 
Schools in all 14 districts of Kerala have been closed and some districts have banned tourists, citing safety concerns.
 
The red alert now remains in 12 out of 14 districts. Rise in flood waters in Periyar River due to the rains and opening of all shutters of all major dams have severely affected lives of people in downstream areas. 
 
Anil Vasudevan, the head of the Kerala health disaster response wing, has said they are prepared to help victims and are setting arrangements in place to deal with the potential risks of water-borne diseases when the flooding recedes.
 
It is normal for Kerala to get some of the country's highest rainfall during monsoon season, but the India Meteorological Department said it had been hit with 37 per cent more than usual because of a spell of low pressure over the region, said the report.
 
Further downpours are forecast for the weekend, leading many to fear the situation may get worse, it added.



Tags: killed | PM Modi | Kerala floods | monsoon. NDRF |

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