Worst flood in a century kills at least 67 in India's Kerala, shuts airport

Fire and rescue personnel evacuate local residents from a flooded area at Muppathadam near Eloor in Kochi's Ernakulam district, in the Indian state of Kerala on Aug 15, 2018.
Fire and rescue personnel evacuate local residents from a flooded area at Muppathadam near Eloor in Kochi's Ernakulam district, in the Indian state of Kerala on Aug 15, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

KOCHI, INDIA (REUTERS/AFP) - Indian officials said at least 25 people were killed in the southern tourist hotspot of Kerala on Wednesday (Aug 15), taking the toll in the flood-ravaged state to 67 with more than 50,000 displaced.

“Twenty-five deaths were confirmed earlier in the evening. The situation is bad in many parts of the state and the number (of deaths) will likely increase,” a senior official from the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority told AFP.

The fatalities from the rain that began a week ago had also risen earlier on Wednesday when the authorities in the southern state were forced to release water from 35 dangerously full dams, sending a surge into its main river.

"Presently, 35 reservoirs in the state are releasing water. Many districts in the state are facing floods," the state's chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said on Twitter.

The Indian Meteorological Department has forecast heavy to very heavy rain in the state until Saturday, and it has issued a"red alert" for 12 out of its 14 districts.

The airport in the port city of Kochi will stay shut until Saturday afternoon.

The rain and floods have destroyed and damaged hundreds of houses in the past week and caused significant losses to crops in the state known for its spices and coffee.

A senior official with the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, Sekhar Lukose Kuriakose, said the seasonal rains have killed more than 200 people in the state since May and displaced many.

The state last saw such devastating flooding in 1924.

Famous for its coastline and picturesque backwaters, Kerala has become a major destination for domestic and international tourists.