Asia Pacific

Southern Indian floods kill at least 100, displace hundreds of thousands

AFP-JIJI, Reuters

Floods have killed at least 100 people and displaced hundreds of thousands across much of India with the southern state of Kerala worst hit, authorities said Saturday.

With rains predicted to worsen in coming days, the government ordered military teams to form rescue units and airlift food to stranded villages across Kerala.

At least 48 people have died since Thursday in floods in Kerala, where the beaches and hill resorts are a major international tourist magnet, state police spokesman Pramod Kumar said.

In neighboring Karnataka, at least 24 people have been killed, and nine are missing. The western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat have also been badly hit by annual monsoon storms.

Media reports said at least 27 people have lost their lives in Maharashtra, with several major roads closed due to flooding. Storm accidents killed eight people in the key Gujarat cities of Ahmedabad and Nadiad.

Thousands of trucks were stuck for more than three days on a national highway linking the financial capital of Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bangalore, with the road submerged in some places, a Maharashtra government official said.

The worst fears are for Kerala where the police spokesman said about 120,000 people have moved into emergency relief camps.

Parts of the state received 155 mm (6.1 inches) of rain on Friday, 10 times more than average, weather department data showed.

“There are around 80 places where flood and rains have triggered mudslides, which we cannot reach,” Kumar added. “About 200 people are stranded at one place. We are trying to use air force helicopters to drop food to them.”

Cochin International Airport, the busiest airport in a state popular with tourists, has been closed since Friday.

About 500 people died in floods in the state last year which were the worst in nearly a century.

More than 600 relief camps in Karnataka are now filled with 161,000 people, a state Disaster Management Authority official said.

“The rains have eased in the region and we think the water will soon start to recede. There are parts of northern Karnataka, coastal regions and the Western Ghats which are badly hit,” the official added.

While the monsoon rains are crucial to replenishing water supplies, they kill hundreds of people every year.