Death toll from Indian floods reaches 147, thousands evacuated

Heavy rain and landslides force hundreds of thousands of people to take shelter in relief camps.

    Death toll from Indian floods reaches 147, thousands evacuated
    Indian Army personnel rescue people stranded in flood waters after heavy rains on the outskirts of Sangli in Maharashtra state [Uday Deolekar/AFP]

    The death toll from floods in the Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra has risen to at least 147, according to authorities, as rescue teams raced to evacuate people and waters submerged parts of a world heritage site.

    Heavy rain and landslides forced hundreds of thousands of people to take shelter in relief camps, while train services were cancelled in several flood-hit areas.

    In the southern state of Kerala, at least 57 people were killed in rain-related incidents while more than 165,000 were in relief camps in the state, local authorities said on Sunday.

    "Several houses are still covered under 10-12 feet deep mud. This is hampering rescue work," state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

    Authorities worried that rescue operations would be hit by thunderstorms and rainfall predicted in some parts of Kerala.

    "People are facing a lot of problems. Water has come from all directions, water has entered all the houses," a rescued local, Ajeet Pattankudi, told Reuters News Agency. 

    Last year, more than 200 people were killed in Kerala and over five million were affected in one of the state's worst floods in 100 years.

    Kerala floods
    Residents are being evacuated from their home to a safer place following floods warnings, on a wooden boat in Kochi [AFP]

    In Karnataka, several structures at the world heritage site Hampi, an ancient town, were flooded.

    So far, 60 people have died in rain-related incidents, said state chief minister BS Yediyurappa, adding nearly 227,000 people were staying in relief camps.

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    In Maharashtra, where the death toll stood at 30, the flood situation was improving, according to state-run All India Radio, though authorities said it would be difficult to restore rail services in some flood-hit areas within the next two weeks.

    While Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra have been the worst hit this year, several other states including Gujarat, Assam and Bihar have also seen heavy damage due to floods.

    India's main opposition Congress party on Sunday called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide relief packages.

    Citing media reports, the party said so far this year 446 people have been killed in six flood-hit states including Assam, Bihar and Gujarat.

    "Despite the mammoth loss of lives and displacement caused due to floods, the government is failing to realize the gravity of the flood fury," it said in a statement.

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    SOURCE: News agencies