Bodies found as floods recede in India's Kerala state

Glen Norman
August 20, 2018

Entire villages in Kerala have been swept away in the state's worst floods for a century. Floodwater has started receding in some areas.

Bakrid festivities on Wednesday will be a frugal affair for many Muslims in the city as they have chose to divert the money kept for the festival to flood victims in Kerala and parts of Karnataka. Rescuers fear the death toll will rise as they reach areas nearly entirely underwater.Thousands remain trapped - often without food or water - in towns and villages cut off by the floods, and heavy rain forecast in coming days threatens to compound the disaster.

Officials said 22,000 people were rescued on Sunday and at least 30 bodies were found, taking the death toll above 200 in the past fortnight, when rainfall was up to two and a half times heavier than usual.

A "Thanks" note was painted on the rooftop of a house in Kochi.

Indian officials say a military airport has opened to commercial flights in the flood-savaged southern state of Kerala to help speed in relief and fly out residents.

"Our solidarity and the concrete support of the worldwide community should not lack for our brothers", said Pope Francis on Sunday.

Mumthaz fled her home in the Malikapeedika district of Kochi with her daughters aged 13 and nine last Thursday.

"When the flood waters came, we were not anticipating a calamity of this kind", he said.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the priority now was to provide clean drinking water and restore power supplies to the state of 33 million people.

"The total number of people taking refuge at the 5,645 relief camps has risen to 724,649", Vijayan told reporters on Sunday.

Thousands of army, air force and navy troops, along with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), are undertaking the search and rescue operations. Dozens of helicopters have been dropping tonnes of food, medicine and water over areas cut off due to damaged roads and bridges.

In Thrissur, rescuers searching inundated houses discovered the bodies of those unable to escape as the floodwaters quickly rose.

Fishermen have sailed inland from Kerala's coast to join the search, as volunteers erected soup kitchens and appeals went out worldwide for donations.

Rains that have battered theregion for the past 12 days were relenting and authorities said 90% of rescue operations were now complete, though thousands of people were still feared to be trapped in the worst-hit areas.

The state government said each boat would get 3,000 rupees ($43) for each day of their work and that authorities would pay for any damage to them.

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