India: Flooding, landslides leave 21 dead in Kerala

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© Provided by Federal authorities have vowed to help affected Kerala residents as much as possible

Heavy flooding and landslides in the southern Indian state of Kerala have left at least 21 people dead, authorities said Sunday.

The death toll includes 13 dead in the district of Kotayyam, with eight additional fatalities reported in the mountainous district of Idukki.

A dozen people, mostly children, are still missing.

Army deployed to help

The flooding was caused by torrential rains which began on Saturday.

The rains have swept through towns and submerged vehicles in the southern Indian state, with the Indian government deploying the National Disaster Response Force and army to assist with rescue efforts.

Federal Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted that the central government is “continously monitoring the situation in parts of Kerala” and “will provide all possible support to help people in need.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it “saddening that some people have lost their lives due to heavy rains and landslides in Kerala.”

He expressed his condolences to families who have lost loved ones in the catastrophe.

Kerala chief minister urges caution

The off-season torrential rains are the result of a low-pressure system over the Arabian Sea. The heavy downpour has subsided, but Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged residents to exercise extreme caution.

Vijayan said 100 relief camps have been set up to help residents affected by the disaster. The camps have been directed to adhere to coronavirus-related protocols, with water, sanitizers, masks and other supplies being made available to those in need.

Kerala has been affected by massive flooding in recent years. In 2018, inundation during the monsoon season left 223 people dead and drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

wd/nm (AP, dpa)

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