Published: Sun, August 19, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Kerala Floods: Ecologists say 'development' led to disaster

Kerala Floods: Ecologists say 'development' led to disaster

Weeks of monsoon rains in the southern Indian state of Kerala have triggered landslides and floods, leaving 324 people dead and thousands stranded.

Some 353,000 people have taken shelter in 3,026 relief camps as thousands of army, navy and air force troops fan out to help those still stranded.

The southwestern state is home to 33 million people and popular with worldwide tourists for its tropical hills and beaches.

After conducting an aerial survey on Saturday, to get a first-hand knowledge of the flood-affected area, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sanctioned a solatium of Rs 500 crore to the rain-battered state.

Alappuzha District Collector S Suhas said since morning 150 boats including house boats have been engaged in rescuing people and "today (Saturday) we have by now evacuated about 75 per cent of people who were waiting to be rescued".

More than 170 people have died in a little over a week and much of the state is at least partially submerged.

India's navy said it airlifted a pregnant woman from the floods on Thursday in Kerala and she gave birth to a boy shortly after the rescue.

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'We are deploying more boats and army to ramp up rescue operations, ' senior state government official P.H. Kurian said.

Meteorologists expect the rains to ease up over the next few days.

"Water levels continue to overflow on tracks and surpassing the danger level of bridges at different places", Southern Railway said in a statement, adding it had canceled more than a dozen trains. Modi also directed National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to fix the damaged national highways in the state on priority, and asked insurance companies to settle claims under crop insurance and social security schemes on time.

"No water and food".

According to India's weather bureau, since the beginning of June, more than 321 centimeters (126 inches) of rain has fallen on the hilly central district of Idukki, which is now virtually cut off from the rest of the state.

Rescue teams were focused on the town of Chengannur on the banks of the Pamba River, where some 5,000 people are feared to be trapped, officials said. Modi also said the centre will help rebuild homes, provide assistance to farmers, and additional funds under the employment guarantee scheme. Officials estimate that more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) of roads have been damaged, and one of the state's major airports, in the city of Kochi, has been closed.

Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said, "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons".

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