Death toll from India floods rises to 100, thousands evacuated

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The death toll from floods in India’s states of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra rose to 100, official figures showed on Saturday, as heavy rain and landslides forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes.

Seasonal monsoon rains from June to September are a crucial lifeline for agrarian Indian society, delivering 70 per cent of the country’s rainfall, but they also bring in their wake death and destruction every year.

The government has 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 told AFP.

In neighbouring Karnataka, at least 24 people have been killed with nine people 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 by floods. Storm accidents killed eight people in the key Gujarat cities of Ahmedabad and Nadiad.

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

‘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.’

Kerala’s Cochin International Airport has been closed since Friday. CIAL (Cochin International Airport Ltd), the operator of the airport, has informed on its website that airport will resume operations art 12 noon on Sunday.

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 told AFP.

‘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.

Published on 10 August 2019, with inputs from Reuters

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