Death toll of Indian state's rain-related incidents surpasses 80

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/8/16 14:29:47

With more deaths in the past 12 hours, the death toll in rain-related incidents since August 8 in India's Kerala state crossed 80, officials said Thursday.

"Till Wednesday evening, the toll stood at 67. In the past 12 hours, at least 14 people have died in floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains. Seven were just killed in a massive landslide in Palakkad district this morning," a disaster management official said.

This is, in fact, turning out to be Kerala's worst monsoon in almost a century. Apart from the casualties, over 34,000 people have been displaced, and more than 10,000 km of roads and hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged across the state.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan this morning and assured him of all help to combat the flood situation.

"We discussed the flood situation in the state. Have asked Defence Ministry to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala," Modi tweeted.

The chief minister Wednesday said that "Kerala is going through a serious situation".

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.

Among the worst-hit districts are Idukki, Wayanad, Pallakad, Malappuram, Kochi and state capital Thirvananthapuram.

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 August 18 afternoon," a spokesperson said Wednesday.

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.

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.

The state's chief minister had last week announced a compensation of 400,000 rupees (5,600 US dollars) to families of those killed in floods and rainslides who lost their loved ones, and up to one million rupees for those who have lost both their land as well as house.

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

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