Worst floods in a century kill scores in India's Kerala

Fri 17 Aug 2018 16:06 GMT | 20:06 Local Time

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The worst floods in a century in the Indian state of Kerala have killed 164 people and forced more than 200,000 into relief camps, officials said on Friday, with the toll expected to rise as heavy rain pushes water levels higher still, Reuters reported.

As the southwestern coastal state’s chief minister sought military reinforcements to boost rescue efforts, a disaster management official said that, since the monsoon season started about three months ago, more than 320 people had died due to flooding and landslides.

As the waters have risen, many people have found it increasingly hard to access food and other basic amenities, or to reach safety.

“In some areas, airlifting is the only option... thousands are still marooned,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Vijayan said he was hoping the military could step up its support for rescuers already using dozens of helicopters and hundreds of boats.

“I spoke to the defense minister this morning and asked for more helicopters,” he told a news conference in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, adding that he planned to send 11 more helicopters to the worst-hit areas.

During the current monsoon, Kerala has been hit with over a third more rain than average, according to India’s weather office. Vijayan said the floods were the worst in a century.

In the latest bout that began nine days ago, 164 people have died and some 223,000 moved into more than 1,500 relief camps, Vijayan said.

Further heavy rainfall has been forecast for most parts of the state on Saturday, and authorities said they planned to implement controlled releases of water from dams to manage flows and minimize damage.

Rains are expected to subside to “light to moderate” levels on Sunday, India’s weather office said.

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