Kerala flooding: Dozens killed and many missing in south India disaster

At least 28 people have died since 12 October

Arpan Rai
Monday 18 October 2021 09:36
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House collapses into river in Kottayam, Kerala

At least 28 people have died in India’s southern state of Kerala and several others remain missing after torrential rains flooded villages over the weekend and triggered landslides that flattened several houses.

The districts of Kottayam, Idukki, Kozhikode, Palakkad, and Thrissur recorded heavy rainfall as the country witnessed residual southwestern monsoon this October. Kottayam and Idukki were affected the worst.

Visuals shared by locals on social media showed streets and houses flooded with rainwater and stranded residents. Reports on Saturday also showed locals wading through chest-deep water as they carried out rescue operations for a bus that was stuck in flood.

A terrifying video showed a two-storey house in southwest Kerala’s Kottayam district collapsing and getting swept away by flowing rainwater as stunned locals watched. The video showed the building — with its roof, doors and windows intact — falling backwards into the rainwater within seconds and disappearing without a trace.

Since 12 October, 28 persons have died in rain-related incidents in the state. At least 21 of them died in just two days, on 15 and 16 October, state government officials said. The toll is expected to increase.

State officials have escalated rescue efforts with help from the Indian army.

India’s federal weather body, the India Meteorological Department, has warned of “isolated, heavy rainfall” in Kerala for three-four days from 20 October, which is likely to worsen the situation in the state.

A yellow alert warning for severe weather has been issued for 11 out of 14 districts in Kerala on Monday, indicating rains, thunderstorms and squall. The yellow alert is in place for several parts of the state till 22 October.

This photograph provided by the Indian Navy and taken from a naval helicopter shows the scene after a landslide triggered by heavy rains in the Western Ghats mountains at Koottickal in Kottayam district of Kerala

More than 10 teams of the federal disaster response body, the National Disaster Response Force, have been tasked with rescuing hundreds trapped inside flooded houses and buildings destroyed in the past week.

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority has set up over 100 relief camps for people displaced due to rain-ravaged homes.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has offered national assistance to state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in an effort to rescue those affected by the excessive rainfall.

“Authorities are working on the ground to assist the injured and affected. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” Mr Modi said in a tweet, adding that he spoke to Mr Vijayan and discussed the situation in Kerala.

Mr Vijayan has requested locals to be cautious even as the rainfall showed signs of subsiding.

Among the worst-impacted states due to the monsoon, the coastal state of Kerala has witnessed deadly floods in the last decade. The state saw catastrophic floods in 2018, where more than 223 people were killed in rain-related disasters and hundreds of thousands were displaced.

An ecologically vulnerable state, Kerala houses India’s Western Ghats, which need severe protection and preservation to avoid climate calamities like excessive monsoon every year, experts have warned.

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