India floods leave over 350 dead and 800,000 displaced
Authorities rush to deliver water to Kerala after worst flooding in a century
Rescuers take people from a flooded area to a safer place in Aluva in the southern state of Kerala, India. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters
Some 800,000 people have been displaced and over 350 have died in the worst flooding in a century in southern India’s Kerala state, as authorities rushed to bring drinking water to the most affected areas.
At least two trains carrying about 1.5 million litres of water were moving to the flooded areas from the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Indian railway official Milind Deouskar said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
Thousands of rescuers were continuing efforts to reach out to stranded people and get relief supplies to isolated areas by hundreds of boats and nearly two dozen helicopters, said PH Kurian, a top disaster management official in Kerala.
He said weather conditions had improved considerably and expected the nearly 10,000 people still stranded to be rescued by Monday.
An estimated 800,000 people were sheltered in some 4,000 relief camps across Kerala, Mr Kurian said.
Weather officials have predicted more rains across the state until Monday morning.
The downpours that started on August 8th have triggered floods and landslides and caused homes and bridges to collapse across Kerala, a picturesque state known for its quiet tropical backwaters and beautiful beaches.
Officials estimate that more than 6,200 miles of roads have been damaged.
One of the state’s major airports, in the city of Kochi, was closed on Tuesday due to the flooding and is scheduled to remain closed until August 26th.
The Indian government said a naval air base in Kochi will be opened for commercial flights starting on Monday morning.
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi inspected the flooded landscape from a helicopter on Saturday and met with the state’s top officials, promising more than 70 million US dollars in aid.
While the central government has dispatched multiple military units to Kerala, state officials are pleading for additional help.
Officials have put initial storm damage estimates at nearly three billion US dollars.
At least 250 people have died in the flooding in a little over a week, with 31 others missing, according to Mr Kurian.
More than 1,000 people have died in flooding in seven Indian states since the start of the monsoon season, including over 350 in Kerala.