India’s monsoon floods leave 800,000 displaced, thousands stranded
Relentless monsoon floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala have left around 800,000 people displaced and nearly 10,000 others stranded, according to reports.
The death toll has risen to more than 350 from the floods and landslides, Reuters reported, citing information from the chief minister of the southwestern state.
The disaster represents the worst flooding in a century in Kerala, officials said.
Some 4,000 relief camps across the state sheltered the hundreds of thousands displaced.
Officials also pleaded for more help as the stranded people waited to be rescued by Monday.
“Please ask (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi to give us helicopters, give us helicopters. … Please, please!” state legislator Saji Cherian said on a Kerala-based TV news channel, the Indian Express newspaper reported.
Authorities said they were being inundated with calls for assistance, local media reported.
People move past a flooded area in Thrissur, in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. (Associated Press)
“We are receiving multiple repetitive rescue requests,” the office of the state’s top official, Pinarayi Vijayan, said in a tweet.
At least two trains carrying about 400,000 gallons 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.
Rainfall in some areas were well over double that of a typical monsoon season, officials said.
The disaster drew attention in the United States from U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat.
“I’m horrified to see the loss of life and broader destruction caused by the continuing floods in Kerala. With more than a quarter of a million people displaced and hundreds dead, the human cost of this continuing tragedy is nearly unimaginable.”
“I’m horrified to see the loss of life and broader destruction caused by the continuing floods in Kerala,” the congressman said in a statement, according to the Indian Express.
“With more than a quarter of a million people displaced and hundreds dead, the human cost of this continuing tragedy is nearly unimaginable,” he continued, “and it is felt far beyond Kerala by countless families across the whole of India, here in the Chicago area, and throughout the world.”
The downpours that started Aug. 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.
Initial storm damage estimates were nearly $2.8 billion, Vijayan said.
Prime Minister Modi inspected the flooded landscape from a helicopter and met Saturday with the state’s top officials, promising more than $70 million in aid.
At least 36 more people were missing, according to Kerala’s disaster management office.
Official said some people have also died in relief camps, Reuters reported.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Kerala and their loved ones,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Officials also estimated that more than 6,200 miles of roads have been damaged.
More than 1,000 people have died in seven Indian states since the start of this year’s monsoon season, including more than 300 in Kerala.