37 Dead, Kerala On High Alert For Heavy Rains

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Kochi: More than half of the 14 districts in Kerala have been put on high alert, officials said on Saturday, as the death toll from one of the worst floods in the southern state reached 37.

Torrential rains and landslides have ravaged farmlands and prompted massive evacuation efforts in Kerala.

Crops on 1,031 hectares (2547.66 acres) have been damaged and 31,000 people have
been forced to take shelter in rescue camps, according to the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority’s (KSDMA) control room in the state capital.

A senior official there said eight districts had been put on varying levels of high alert.

PH Kurian, KSDMA’s chief and a top state bureaucrat, said rains had eased.

“There was no rain in the catchment areas of major reservoirs today,” Mr Kurian
said. “However, we will continue our alert and preparedness till August 15,” he
added.

Federal home minister Rajnath Singh was expected to travel to the state on Sunday to take a stock of the relief and rescue operations, Mr Kurian added.

Kerala authorities have taken the unprecedented step of opening the gates of 25 water reservoirs to prevent potentially disastrous breaches.

The state, which has 44 rivers, witnessed its worst floods in 1924 following torrential rains.

The weather department forecast heavy rains until August 15, Independence Day, also
warning of flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the Arabian Sea.

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