India issued a fresh flood alert Wednesday for parts of the southern state of Kerala, as the nationwide death toll from the annual monsoon deluge rose to at least 244.
Authorities warned Kerala locals of heavy rainfall over the next 24-48 hours in some of the worst affected regions of the state popular with tourists.
Heavy rain in parts of four Indian states - Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat - has forced more than 1.2 million people to leave their homes, mostly for government-run relief camps.
Kerala was hit by its worst floods in almost a century last year, when 450 people died, and the state is still recovering from the damage to public infrastructure including highways, railways and roads.
The state's death toll this monsoon season increased to 95 overnight, with at least 59 people missing, Kerala police told AFP on Wednesday.
At least 58 people have also lost their lives in neighbouring Karnataka state, where authorities have rescued around 677,000 people from flooded regions.
The situation is now improving in Karnataka, however, as waters start to recede, a government official told AFP.
In the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra the death toll reached 91, with hundreds of thousands rescued from inundated regions.
"Our teams have recovered 49 bodies so far from different regions including Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara and Pune, and most deaths were caused due to drowning and wall collapses," Deepak Mhaisekar, divisional commissioner of Pune told AFP.
"The situation is under control now," he added, though the casualty count may increase slightly.
Fresh flood alert in southern India, 209 dead
India issued Wednesday a fresh flood alert for parts of the southern state of Kerala, as the nationwide death toll from the annual monsoon deluge rose to at least 209.
Authorities warned Kerala locals of heavy to extremely heavy rainfall over the next 24-48 hours in some of the worst affected regions of the state popular with tourists.
Heavy rains in parts of four Indian states - Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat - have forced more than 1.2 million people to leave their homes, mostly for government-run relief camps.
Kerala was hit by its worst floods in almost a century last year, and is still recovering from the extensive loss of life and damage to public infrastructure including highways, railways and roads.
Around 450 people lost their lives in Kerala in 2018.
The death toll this monsoon season in the state increased to 95 overnight and at least 59 people were missing, Kerala police told AFP on Wednesday.
At least 48 people have also lost their lives in neighbouring Karnataka state, where authorities have also rescued around 677,000 people from flooded regions.
Local media have also reported 66 deaths in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, with hundreds of thousands rescued from inundated regions.
India has also deployed the army, navy and air force to work with the local emergency personnel for search, rescue and relief operations in the flooded regions.
The monsoon rains are crucial to replenishing water supplies in drought-stricken India, but they kill hundreds of people across the country every year.
Death toll from Indian floods reaches 158, hundreds of thousands evacuated
The death toll from floods in the four Indian states rose to 158, news agencies quoted state authorities as saying on Sunday.
The death toll in three states - Kerala, Karnataka, and Maharashtra - reached 147, Reuters reported on Sunday.
Heavy rain and landslides forced hundreds of thousands of people to take shelter in relief camps, while train services were cancelled in several flood-hit areas.
In the southern state of Kerala, at least 57 people were killed in rain-related incidents while over 165,000 people were in relief camps in the state, Reuters quoted the state authorities as saying on Sunday.
"Several houses are still covered under 10-12 feet deep mud. This is hampering rescue work," state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Authorities worried that rescue operations would be hit by thunderstorms and rainfall predicted in some parts of Kerala.
Last year, more than 200 people were killed in Kerala and over five million affected in one of the worst floods in 100 years in the state.
In another southern state of Karnataka, several structures at world heritage site Hampi, an ancient town, were flooded. So far 60 people have died in rain-related incidents, said state chief minister B S Yediyurappa, adding nearly 227,000 people were staying in relief camps.
In the western state of Maharashtra, where the death toll stood at 30, the flood situation was improving, according to state-run All India Radio. However authorities said it would be difficult to restore rail services in some flood-hit areas within the next two weeks.
While Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra have been the worst hit this year, several other states including Gujarat, Assam and Bihar have also seen heavy damage due to floods, said the Reuters report.
Meanwhile, an Asian News International, ANI, report on Sunday said at least 11 people have lost their lives in the western state of Gujarat in the last 48 hour as incessant rains wreaked havoc in the state.
Rescue operation to evacuate people to a safer place is underway. So far, around 6,000 people have been moved to safety.
A policeman from the state received praise for his bravery and kindness. He carried two children on his shoulders for over 1.5 kilometres to rescue them from the floodwaters in Kalyanpur village of Morbi district in Gujarat.
Pruthviraj Jadeja, the policeman, braved fierce current floodwaters and strong winds to save the children, and received praise from the State Chief Minister Vijay Rupani who shared the video and lauded the officer on Twitter.
In the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, due to unrelenting rains, Thal-Munsiyari Road near Banik has been shut on Sunday after boulders and debris blocked the road.
Earlier on Sunday, in another incident, a huge boulder fell on the road and blocked the portion of the national highway-125 between Dharchula and Tawaghat in the state.
Death toll from India floods rises to 95, hundreds of thousands evacuated
The death toll from floods in India’s states of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra rose to 95, official figures showed on Saturday, as heavy rain and landslides forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes.
Seasonal monsoon rains from June to September are a crucial lifeline for agrarian Indian society, delivering 70% of the country’s rainfall, but they also bring in their wake death and destruction every year.
“Our entire village under water for the last eight days but still we haven’t got any assistance from the government,” said farmer Prashant Lathe, 35, from a village in one of the flood-hit districts of the western state of Maharashtra.
The district has lost access to all basic amenities such as drinking water, power supply, cooking gas cylinder and petrol for running vehicles, Lathe said.
Excessively strong rains can also harm India’s farming sector, which employs nearly half of its 1.3 billion people. Lathe said his sugar cane plantation of around four acres was submerged.
In the southwestern state of Kerala, some 42 people died and over 100,000 affected people have been evacuated, the central government’s disaster management cell said, after 80 landslides hit the state in two days.
The state was opening the gates of Banasurasagar dam in Wayanad district on Saturday to manage water levels and avoid serious damage.
Last year, more than 200 people were killed and over five million affected in one of Kerala’s worst floods in 100 years. Some residents said the sudden opening of dam gates without proper warnings to those living downstream was a big factor in the devastation.
The state’s busiest airport, Cochin International Airport, closed since Friday as the taxiway was water-logged, will resume operations from 0630 GMT on Sunday, the airport management said.
In neighboring Karnataka, home to India’s tech hub Bengaluru, some 24 people have died in what chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said on Saturday were the worst floods in 45 years.
Around 1,024 villages have been inundated due to the rains, several dams were reaching their full capacity, and over 200,000 people had been evacuated, he added.
In Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai, 29 people have died this week.
The Indian Meteorological Department said heavy to very heavy rain was likely to lash isolated areas of Kerala, parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra, and some southern states might also see extremely heavy rain on Saturday.
Gulf flights disrupted in Kerala due to heavy rains
Authorities in India are taking steps to ease difficulties faced by travelers from the Gulf to Kerala as a result of floods caused by heavy rains.
Two dozen people are reported to have been killed across Kerala from the floods and nine districts in the state are under "red alert" to prevent further loss of lives and ensure essential services.
Outside India, the most visible effects of the monsoon flooding in Kerala has been on the state’s connectivity with the Gulf. Cochin International Airport, the main gateway from Gulf countries to Kerala has been shut until Sunday afternoon.
Almost the entire air traffic by non-Indian carriers to Cochin airport are from the Gulf.
The Civil Aviation Ministry in New Delhi today directed incoming aircraft bound for Cochin to fly to two other Kerala airports: Trivandrum and Calicut.
The flights designated to take off from Cochin airport will also lift passengers from Trivandrum and Calicut instead.
Cochin International Airport Limited announced that Oman Air flights in the next three days will operate from Trivandrum instead of Cochin. Kuwait Airways flights on two days have been cancelled as did Gulf Air.
Cochin Airport said Fly Dubai and Air India flights have been shifted to Trivandrum.
Passengers travelling by some Emirates flights have been rebooked from Trivandrum. Air Asia flights for two days have been cancelled.
Most airlines have waived charges for changing travel dates or for cancelling journeys.