Death toll in rain-related incidents in India's Kerala rises to 67

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/8/16 8:40:42

The toll in rain-related incidents since Aug. 8 in the southern Indian state of Kerala has touched 67, its Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

"Kerala is going through a serious situation," the chief minister said.

Among the worst affected districts are Idukki, Wayanad, Pallakad, Malappuram, Kochi, and state capital Thirvananthapuram. "Some 11 people died in Malappuram district alone Wednesday," a disaster management official said.

The rain turned out to be Kerala's worst monsoon in almost a century, he added.

Apart from the casualties, more than 10,000 km of roads and hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged in the heavy rains-triggered floods in the state, prompting the state government to cancel celebrations for Onam, a major festival in southern India.

The Kochi airport, one of the busiest in southern India, has been shut down following flooding of the runaway. "Kochi airport operations have been temporarily suspended till Aug. 18 afternoon since the inflow of water is still on a raising trend," a spokesperson told media.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the flood-affected state in his address to the nation on the occasion of the country's Independence Day from the iconic Red Fort in the national capital.

"Many parts of the nation witnessed a good monsoon but at the same time parts of India have been affected by flooding. My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives due to floods in various parts of India," he said.

The weather department has predicted more rains in the next three days and sounded a fresh alert. "People living on river banks in the rain-hit districts have been asked to relocate, while fishermen urged not to venture into the Arabian Sea," the disaster relief official said.

Officials said that several dams, particularly the Idukki dam, the biggest arch dam in Asia, have been opened to release excess water. All the shutters of the Idukki dam were opened last week for the first time after a gap of 26 years.

Apart from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), Indian Army, Navy and Air Force have been pressed into rescue work. "Some 14 NDRF teams and 10 columns of Army are now in action in Thrissur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Wayand, Kozhikode and Idukki districts," sources said.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who undertook an aerial survey of the state on Sunday, had termed the situation in Kerala as serious.

This is the state's worst monsoon rains since 1924. Last month, rain-related incidents in Kerala claimed 40 lives.

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