BBC reported Friday that over 300 people have been killed by monsoon flooding in the southern Indian state of Kerala. According to local officials, at least 324 people have been reported dead thus far.
The state government has reported that many of the dead were crushed under falling debris caused by landslides. A rescue operation is already underway to save residents who remain caught up in the flooding. So far, over 200,000 people have evacuated their homes to find seek shelter in several emergency relief camps farther away from the areas of extreme flooding. Troops are also tending to those who have yet to escape by using helicopters to airlift them out of their flooded homes and neighborhoods. Around 300 boats were also deployed to get residents to safety.
Meanwhile, Kerala has decided to close their main airport until August 26, when the rain is expected to finally subside.
For now, the “government has urged people not to ignore evacuation orders, and is distributing food to tens of thousands who have fled to higher ground.”
Referring to the disastrous effects of the monsoon, Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala’s chief minister, told reporters, “We’re witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala.”
Cochin, the commerce capital of the region, is currently completely submerged under water, and other local farms and plantations in the area have been inundated, jeopardizing the region’s most profitable industries. In addition, all of Kerala’s schools have been closed until further notice.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed his support for Kerala’s flooding via Twitter on Thursday, writing, “Had a telephonic conversation with Kerala Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan regrading the prevailing flood situation in the state. The Centre is rushing additional NDRF teams to Kerala. We are providing all possible assistance. I am in constant touch with Kerala CM.”
The head of Kerala’s health disaster response wing, Anil Vasusdevan, also offered up his support, stating that he is willing and able to provide aid to flood victims and will work to prevent residents from contracting any water-borne illnesses.
One eyewitness, Krishna Jayan, who escaped her hometown of Cochin, told BBC that she was asleep when her house started to fill with water, adding that her friend woke her up and informed her of the problem. “I opened the door and water gushed in,” Jayan said. “When we stepped into the street, we were neck-deep in water.” Jayan was only able to escape because some of the local residents “tied ropes along the streets to help people walk through the water,” allowing both her and her friend to reach safety.