Thursday 20 June 2019

Thousands await rescue amid deadly south Indian floods

More than 190 have died in a little over a week in the state of Kerala.

Rescuers in Alappuzha district, Kerala state (AP Photo/Tibin Augustine)
Rescuers in Alappuzha district, Kerala state (AP Photo/Tibin Augustine)

By Tim Sullivan, Associated Press

Thousands of stranded people are waiting for rescue and officials have pleaded for more help as relentless monsoon floods batter the south Indian state of Kerala.

More than 190 have died in a little over a week and much of the state is partially submerged.

Heavy rain began hitting parts of the state again on Saturday morning, slowing attempts to deploy rescuers and get relief supplies to isolated areas cut off for days, many of which can only be reached by boat or helicopter.

More than 300,000 people have taken shelter in 1,500 state-run relief camps, officials said, but authorities and local media outlets said they were being inundated with calls for assistance.

“We are receiving multiple repetitive rescue requests,” the office of the state’s top official, Pinarayi Vijayan, said, asking those in need to provide their exact location and nearby landmarks so rescuers can find them.

Mr Vijayan’s office also tweeted that the state was “facing its worst flood in 100 years”.

Heavy rain since August 8 has 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.

Many roads and rail lines have been shut, and one of the state’s major airports, in the city of Kochi, has also closed.

Prime minister Narendra Modi met the state’s top officials on Saturday, promising more than £55 million in aid. While the central government has dispatched multiple military units to Kerala, state officials are pleading for additional help.

“Please ask Modi to give us helicopters, give us helicopters. Please, please!” state legislator Saji Cherian said on a Kerala-based TV news channel, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

Mr Modi said 38 helicopters had been deployed for search and rescue operations in the state, which has a population of more than 33 million.

“We all pray for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala,” he said in a tweet.

At least 194 people have died in the state since torrential rain began on August 8, and 36 are missing, according to Kerala’s disaster management office.

More than 1,000 people have died in seven Indian states since the start of the monsoon season, including more than 300 in Kerala.

Officials estimate that more than 6,200 miles of roads have been damaged in Kerala, and Mr
Vijayan said initial estimates are that the state has suffered losses of nearly £2.2 billion.

Press Association

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