Authorities step up rescue efforts in flood-hit Kerala


Health authorities in the flood-hit Indian state of Kerala made preparations to combat the spread of diseases and intensify the pace of rescue missions after devastating floods – the worst in a century, according to officials – killed hundreds of people and displaced almost a million more.

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Starting August 8, non-stop rains overflowed rivers and triggered landslides in the southwest state of 33 million people, a popular tourist destination straddling the Indian Sea. At least 324 people died and almost a million more are living in thousands of relief camps, according to state officials. Kerala’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the floods were the worst the state has seen in over a century.

Light to moderate rains were expected today. Rescue teams hope to take advantage of the more favourable weather to reach tens of thousands of stranded villagers who’d been cut off by rising waters and lethal mudslides.

“The biggest challenges immediately ahead are cleaning of the flood-hit houses, rehabilitation, and prevention of water-borne diseases,” local official Mahesh P. told Reuters.

Hundreds of troops were deployed over the weekend to assist rescue operations, as well as at leasts 300 boats and dozens of helicopters.

An aerial view shows partially submerged houses at a flooded area in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Sivaram V
An aerial view shows partially submerged houses at a flooded area in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Sivaram V

Are floods in the Indian subcontinent getting more destructive every year?

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Rainfall in Kerala this monsoon season was 40 percent higher than normal, according to Reuters. Incessant rains over the past 10 days forced officials to release water from several dams, sending surges into rivers which then overflowed their banks.

India’s home ministry said more than 930 people across the country died since monsoon season began in June.

What’s Kerala’s geography like?

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