NEW DELHI • Hospitals are readying anti-venom medication while flood victims returning home in the Indian state of Kerala have been told to stay alert as receding waters leave behind a glut of snakes.
Local media reports have warned that snakes may be "hiding in cupboards" or under carpets, among clothes or inside washing machines in homes previously submerged by floods that have devastated parts of the southern state.
"Snakes are spotted at many flood-hit homes and alerts have been issued to exercise caution when returning home," Kerala government spokesman Subhash T.V. told Agence France-Presse on Friday.
"Hospitals too have been equipped to face the situation. Instructions have been given to arrange facilities to treat snakebite victims. Anti-venom and other necessary medicines are stored at all hospitals, especially those in flood-hit areas," he added.
Media reports said several hospitals in the worst-hit areas of northern and central Kerala had reported an increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for snake bites.
Local snake handler Vava Suresh told the Hindustan Times newspaper he had received some 22 calls from worried residents and caught five cobras in Ernakulam district. "One was found inside the wardrobe on the second floor of a house... while another one was inside a shelf in a house," he said.
Estimated number dead or missing in the Kerala floods.
Kilometres of roads that have been destroyed or damaged.
Number of homes wiped out.
The state authorities and wildlife experts have formed teams to assist those who have found snakes in their home, according to local media.
The PTI news agency said the government had roped in a local snake expert, who advised returning residents to use a stick to sift through their belongings and not to touch household appliances with bare hands.
A Times of India video report about snakes entering homes after the recent floods showed a woman using a long stick to chase out a large python that was curling up on her garden wall.
Around a million people are still packed into temporary camps even though the flood waters, which have left at least 420 dead or missing, are fast subsiding.
The government said more than 10,000km of roads have been destroyed or damaged, while one legislator said 50,000 houses had been wiped out.
Meanwhile, Kerala has blamed neighbouring state Tamil Nadu for causing the floods.
The government of Kerala told the Supreme Court of India on Friday that the floods occurred because Tamil Nadu released water from its Mullaperiyar dam, Xinhua reported.
The sudden release of water caused an "overload" in the downstream Idukki reservoir in Kerala, and water from the reservoir had to be released, Kerala said in an affidavit in the court.
Tamil Nadu contended that it released water on Aug 16, nearly a week after the floods started in Kerala, which was battered by torrential rain from Aug 8.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA