Kerala floods: Rescue workers trying to save thousands of animals at risk of drowning

Specialists have already found puppies left tied up and a kitten on a rooftop as region faces worst floods for more than a century

Colin Drury
Saturday 18 August 2018 23:34
Volunteers rescue animalss in the Kerala floods

Rescue workers are risking their lives to save some of the thousands of animals left behind as relentless monsoon floods continue to ravage southern India.

A team of six specialists are battling treacherous conditions in Kerala state in a bid to bring abandoned pets to safety.

Already they say they have saved two puppies left tied up as waters rose, and transported 25 dogs and their owner to safety after she refused to leave home without her pets.

Officials said the flooding is the worst Kerala has experienced for more than a century, with more than 320 people dead and the toll expected to rise.

More than 300,000 people have been left either temporarily or permanently homeless with rising waters – caused by monsoon rains busting river dams – sweeping away buildings and damaging more than 10km of roads. One of the state's major airports, in the city of Kochi, has been closed.

Thousands of people remain stranded in the worst hit areas of Nilambur and Tirur, with many awaiting rescue from rooftops and trees.

On Saturday the Indian Army said one regimental column rescued 256 people including three pregnant women from the Chalakudy area.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised more than £55m in aid during a meeting with state officials and said 38 helicopters had been deployed for search and rescue operations in the state.

"We all pray for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala," he said in a tweet.

The animal rescue team has been formed by the Indian branch of the charity Humane Society International, which operates such rescues and veterinary care in disaster zones around the world.

It moved into Kerala as it emerged thousands of animals were drowning in the disaster.

Sally Varma, the charity’s education officer, said: “Kerala is at a standstill right now with many areas experiencing total devastation.

“Our team is encountering many animals who have perished. However, we are still finding abandoned dogs and were recently able to rescue 13 dogs and a tiny kitten who we found trembling as the floods raged around him.

“We are bracing ourselves for when the floods subside and we can finally access some of the areas currently totally cut off, where we may find more animals we’re desperately hoping to reach.”

Although more downpours were forecast for this weekend meteorologists expect the rains to ease up over the next few days.

No red alerts were issued for any of Kerala's 14 districts for the first time since 9 August.

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