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Over 100 dead in southern India's worst flood in almost a century

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Staff Writer | August 17, 2018
India rain
Disaster   This is the state's worst monsoon rains since 1924

The death toll of rain-related incidents in southern Indian state of Kerala has touched more than 100, with as many as 40 deaths being reported in the past 24 hours, officials said Friday.

"Since Thursday morning, 40 people died in the state. While some 30 people were swept away in rising flood waters, others were buried alive in landslides, all triggered by torrential rains that have been lashing the state since August 8," a disaster relief official said.

Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Air Force have pushed in more forces in the state, apart from the already stationed troops and personnel of National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF). "The Air Force is airdropping food packets and airlifting people in affected districts," he said.

This is Kerala's worst monsoon in almost a century. Apart from casualties, over 200,000 people have been displaced, and more than 10,000 km of roads and hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged across the state.

"The situation is grim. More than 200,000 people are living in relief camps," the official said, adding that more and more people are relocating to these relief camps.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he spoke to the Kerala chief minister and would visit the state later in the day to take a first-hand look at the situation.

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

In a fresh statement, authorities said that the Kochi airport, one of the busiest in southern India, would remain shut till Aug. 26 and not till this Saturday, as was earlier announced.

"Kochi Airport operations is temporarily suspended up to 2:00 p.m. on August 26 due to very high flood situation and key essential facilities like runway, taxiway and apron are under submerged condition," an airport statement said.

The weather department has predicted more rains in the next one week 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.

The state chief minister had last week announced a compensation of 400,000 rupees ($5,600) each to families of those killed in floods and rainslides who lost their loved ones, and up to 1 million rupees ($14,266) 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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