India: Monsoon floods, landslides kill dozens in Kerala state

Death toll in southern state of Kerala rises to 37, as heavy rain displaces thousands and damages crops.

    Torrential rains and landslides in the southern Indian state of Kerala have killed dozens of people, ravaged farmlands and forced thousands to be evacuated, officials said. 

    More than half of Kerala's 14 districts were put on high alert on Saturday, as heavy monsoon rain that started on Wednesday continued to devastate the region. 

    "Nine more deaths have been reported since Friday raising the toll to 37. The hilly district of Idukki has been the worst affected, accounting for 18 deaths," an official at the state disaster management control room told the dpa news agency on Saturday.

    More than 30,000 people have been evacuated from villages in low-lying areas and moved to relief camps set up by the government.

    Crops on 1,031 hectares (2547.66 acres) have been damaged from the flooding, according to the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority's (KSDMA) control room in the state capital.

    Roads and houses are engulfed in water following heavy rain and landslide in Kozhikode [AP]

    "The rains subsided on Saturday but agencies are on alert as more rains have been forecast. The death toll could rise as rescuers reach remote areas," the KSDMA official told dpa. 

    Kerala state authorities have opened the gates of 25 water reservoirs to prevent potentially disastrous breaches.

    Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan visited the affected areas on Saturday to survey the relief and rescue operation.

    Local media reported that as many as 60 tourists, several of them foreigners, had become stranded at a private resort in Idukki and were later rescued by the army.

    The weather department forecasts heavy rains until August 15, India's Independence Day, and has warned of flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the Arabian Sea.

    India's monsoon season between June and September often sees heavy rains that are vital for agriculture but can cause immense destruction.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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