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About 800,000 people have been displaced and more than 350 have died in the worst flooding in a century in southern India’s Kerala state, according to officials.

Key points:

  • 800,000 people are sheltered in some 4,000 relief camps across Kerala
  • Floods have caused landslides and homes and bridges have collapsed
  • About 10,000 kilometers of roads have been damaged

Downpours that started on August 8 have triggered floods and landslides and caused homes and bridges to collapse across Kerala, a picturesque state known for its quiet tropical backwaters and beautiful beaches.

Authorities are rushing to bring drinking water to the most affected areas.

At least two trains carrying about 1.5 million liters of water were moving to the flooded areas from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Indian railway official Milind Deouskar said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

And thousands of rescuers were working to reach stranded people and get relief supplies to isolated areas by hundreds of boats and nearly two dozen helicopters, PH Kurian, a top disaster management official in Kerala, said.

He said an estimated 800,000 people were sheltered in some 4,000 relief camps across Kerala.

He said weather conditions had improved considerably and he expected the nearly 10,000 people still stranded to be rescued by Monday.

Damage estimated to be worth $3 billion

Officials estimate that more than 10,000 kilometres of roads have been damaged in the natural disaster.

One of the state’s major airports, in the city of Kochi, was closed last week due to the flooding. It is scheduled to remain closed until August 26.

The Indian Government said a naval air base in Kochi would be opened for commercial flights starting on Monday morning.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspected the flooded landscape from a helicopter on Saturday and met with the state’s top officials, promising more than $70 million in aid.

While the Central Government has dispatched multiple military units to Kerala, state officials are pleading for additional help.

Officials have put initial storm damage estimates at nearly $3 billion.

More than 1,000 people have died in flooding in seven Indian states since the start of the monsoon season, including more than 350 in Kerala.


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