35 people have been confirmed dead after landslides and floods triggered by heavy rains hit southwestern India.
Local officials said that they had recovered 11 bodies in the Idukki district and another 14 in the Kottayam district of the coastal state of Kerala after the areas were hit by devastating landslides and flash floods.
The district magistrate of KottayamPK Jayasreesaid that nine bodies were recovered on Monday while a six-member family has been completely lost.
Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that thousands of people had been evacuated and at least 100 relief camps had been set up.
In a tweet, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his condolences and said that the authorities were working to help those who were affected by the deluge.
State officials said that locals were cut off in parts of the state as the rains, which started to intensify from late on Friday, swelled rivers and flooded roads.
The Kochi airport remains submerged and has been shut down till August 26. The authorities say that the closure may very well go beyond 26th.
Military assisting with rescue efforts
Officials were unable to confirm how many people were missing. Authorities said that several rescue operations were ongoing to scour muddy debris for survivors. The army, navy, and air force are also assisting with flood relief, emergency supplies, and rescue operations.
Talking to local media channels in Koottickal town in Kottayam, a distraught man said, “It was my livelihood. Everything is gone.”
Another woman from the town said, “The hill broke off near us. There has been a lot of damage and loss. The house has gone. Children have gone.”
Video shared on social media showed buses and cars submerged in floodwaters.
Rainfall expected to ease
The India Meteorological Department said that the heavy rains were caused by a low-pressure area over the south-eastern Arabian Sea and Kerala. It said that the rainfall was expected to ease on Monday.
Meanwhile, the northern Indian region is forecast to experience “heavy to very heavy rainfall” in the next two to three days. The weather bureau said that the rainfall may some states including the Himalayan regions of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh
The northern weather system would be caused by a low-pressure area over Afghanistan and its surroundings interacting with strong winds from the Bay of Bengal, it added.
In 2018, nearly 500 people were killed in Kerala when it was ravaged by the worst floods to hit the state in almost a century.