Kerala floods: Hundreds evacuated from rooftops after 164 killed in India

Rescue efforts have involved dozens of helicopters and hundreds of boats

Samuel Osborne
Friday 17 August 2018 09:49
Kerala floods: Footage shows destruction as landslides hit region and homes are evacuated

The worst floods in a century in the state of Kerala in southern India have killed at least 164 people and forced more than 200,000 into relief camps.

As the torrential rains stopped on Friday, thousands of rescue workers used helicopters and boats to evacuate hundreds of people who were stranded on their rooftops.

They worked to shift the marooned people to nearly 1,600 state-run camps.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, was due to visit the state later on Friday, as its chief minister said he was hoping the military could step up help for the rescue effort, which has already involved dozens of helicopters and hundreds of boats.

“I spoke to the defence minister this morning and asked for more helicopters,” the chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, told a news conference in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, adding that he planned to send 11 more helicopters to the worst-hit places.

“In some areas, airlifting is the only option ... thousands are still marooned.”

The floods began nine days ago and Mr Vijayan said 164 people had been killed – some in landslides – with about 223,000 people forced into 1,568 relief camps.

The office of the chief minister said heavy rain was falling in some places on Friday, and more showers are expected over the weekend.

Mr Modi said on Twitter he would travel to Kerala “to take stock of the unfortunate situation,” and said he had directed the country’s Defence Ministry to “further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state.”

Kerala, which is famous for its coastline and picturesque backwaters, has become a major destination for both domestic and international tourists.

The international airport in the main commercial city of Kochi had to suspend operations until 26 August due to flooding, with flights diverted to two other airports in the state.

Kerala floods: Man films selfie video asking for help while up to his neck in water

Each year, monsoon rains kill hundreds of people in India in a monsoon season which runs from June to September.

The last time Kerala saw such devastating flooding was in 1924.

Additional reporting by agencies

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