Death toll from India floods crosses 100 as rains wreak havoc

National Disaster Response Force personnel helping to evacuate flood victims to safer areas in Wayanad district, in the southern state of Kerala. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
National Disaster Response Force personnel helping to evacuate flood victims to safer areas in Wayanad district, in the southern state of Kerala. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Hundreds of thousands forced to evacuate amid flooding, landslides

KOCHI/BENGALURU (India) • The death toll from floods in the Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra has crossed 100, official figures showed yesterday, 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 per cent of the country's rainfall, but they also bring in their wake death and destruction.

"Our entire village (has been) 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 cylinders and petrol for running vehicles, Mr Lathe said. Excessively strong rains can also harm India's farming sector, which employs nearly half of its 1.3 billion people.

In the southern state of Kerala, some 48 people have died and more than 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 opened the gates of Banasurasagar dam in Wayanad district yesterday 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 warning 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 today, the airport management said.

 

In neighbouring Karnataka, home to India's tech hub Bengaluru, some 24 people have died in what Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said yesterday 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 have been evacuated, he added.

In Maharashtra, home to India's financial capital Mumbai, 29 people died last week. The Indian Meteorological Department said heavy to very heavy rain was likely to lash isolated areas of Kerala, parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra, with some southern states expected to see extremely heavy rain yesterday.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 11, 2019, with the headline 'Death toll from India floods crosses 100 as rains wreak havoc'. Print Edition | Subscribe