Rain receding in Kerala after the worst floods in nearly a century

Monsoon rains and heavy flooding have killed hundreds of people and forced more than 300,000 others to seek ...

Posted: Aug. 19, 2018 9:20 PM
Updated: Aug. 19, 2018 9:20 PM

Monsoon rains and heavy flooding have killed hundreds of people and forced more than 300,000 others to seek shelter in Kerala.

Torrential rains in Kerala triggered the state's worst flooding in nearly a century, destroying thousands of homes and roads.

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But there is the promise of relief in sight.

The deadly rains and high waters deluging the southern Indian state of Kerala are receding, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs said Saturday.

"There is some respite from the rainfall and water levels in the dam reservoirs are stabilized," the ministry said in a statement. "Rainfall is expected to recede further barring in one or two districts."

At least 345 people have been killed since the start of the monsoon season in late May, according to Rekha Nambiyar, senior commandant of the National Disaster Relief Force. Flash floods and landslides have killed 171 people in the past 11 days but half of those deaths were reported in the past three days, Nambiyar said.

Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala's chief minister, tweeted on Friday that 314,391 people were staying in relief camps across the state.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi surveyed the flooding damage. Images showed the prime minister at a meeting with local officials and flying over the flooded areas.

"My thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives due to incessant flooding across Kerala. I hope the injured recover at the earliest," he tweeted. "We all pray for the safety and well being of the people of Kerala."

Following the meeting, Minister Vijayan said an initial assessment indicated the floods caused an estimated $2.7 billion in damages.

In a statement, Prime Minister Modi announced the government has approved $71.6 million in assistance along with other relief such as food and medicine.

The international airport in the city of Kochi, one of India's busiest airports, will remain closed until August 26, airport officials said in a statement. Several areas of the airport, including the runway and taxiway, remain submerged in water.

The naval airstrip at Kochi will be available for commercial flights by Monday.

A heavily pregnant woman was rescued on Friday by helicopter from the rooftop of her flooded home in Aluva, one of the worst-hit areas, according to Indian Navy spokesman D.K. Sharma.

Sajitha Jabil, 25, whose water already had broken when she was airlifted to safety, delivered a baby boy in the hospital two hours later, Sharma told CNN.

Despite promising signs, emergency workers are still scrambling on Saturday to rescue thousands of people caught up in floodwaters. Vijayan said a total of 82,442 rescues were made Friday.

About 1,300 personnel and scores of aircraft and motorboats have been deployed for search and rescue operations, officials said.

Life jackets, life buoys, inflatable tower lights, raincoats, gumboots and chain saws have been provided. Food packets, milk, drinking water and potable water purification kits have also been distributed to residents.

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