Thousands stranded - and hundreds dead - as relentless monsoon floods batter India


Thousands of stranded people were waiting for rescue Saturday and officials pleaded for more help as relentless monsoon floods battered the south Indian state of Kerala, where more than 190 have died in a little over a week and much of the state is partially submerged.

Authorities warned of more torrential rain and strong winds over the weekend, as hundreds of troops and local fishermen staged desperate rescue attempts in helicopters and boats across the southern state.

Rescue workers have yet to reach many flooded areas, some too narrow for boats to navigate.

"For the past five days people are without food in many places".

"We are deploying more boats and the army to ramp up rescue operations", senior state government official P.H. Kurian told AFP.

Reports said electricity supplies to more than half the state have been cut. "If this goes out, I will have some charge left in my laptop and then it will be incommunicado".

Hundreds of troops and fishermen are staging rescue attempts with helicopters and boats across the southern state, which draws global tourists to its tropical beaches.

In one of the biggest rescue operations carried out in India, officials said that 67 helicopters, 24 aeroplanes and 548 motorboats have been deployed for rescue and relief operations across flood-ravaged Kerala.

Following the cancellation, Modi chaired a meeting with Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other officials and witnessed a video presentation of the widespread destruction across the state.

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"In some areas, airlifting is the only option. thousands are still marooned", Vijayan said on Friday.

At least 310,000 people displaced from across the state are taking shelter in more than 2,000 relief camps.

Social media groups, students, actors and NGOs are among those who have made contributions to the relief fund.

Relief and rescue operations are on war-footing across the state as many people are still stranded in various areas. Since the start of the monsoon season in June, more than 1,000 people have died in rains, floods and landslides across seven Indian states.

One of his advisers, Prabha Varma, told Reuters 186 people had died since August 8, when the waters began to rise.

Following the meeting, Minister Vijayan said an initial assessment indicated the floods caused an estimated $2.7 billion in damages.

Modi also assured the state government that relief materials, including food grains and medicines, would be provided, as requested.

With roughly more than half of the people living in rural areas, the floods will eventually result in loss of land and property to many in the state.