Kerala floods: Death toll rises to 357 on Saturday

Kerala floods: Death toll rises to 357 on Saturday

A massive rescue-and-relief effort has been stepped up as the scale of the disaster widens and distress messages continue to pour in from people stranded on rooftops and in remote villages. This together with the slightly reduced rain since Friday has raised the hope of Keralites. "We all pray for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala", he said in a tweet.

Residents were seen swimming and wading through chest-high waters past partially submerged homes. The Indian Prime Minister also said: "The Central Government is ensuring that the benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, various social security schemes, Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture reach those affected on a priority basis in Kerala".

Meanwhile, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation resumed inter-state bus services to Kerala's Ernakulam, Kottayam, Trissur, Palghat, Calicut, Cannanore and Thiruvananthapuram areas.

"The air marshal in charge of the air operations said more helicopters are on the way", Vijayan said, adding that the federal government would send initial financial assistance of about $70 million (€61 million) with more later, and grains to replace the stocks destroyed in the floods.

While the Kochi airport remains closed due to water-logging, a commercial flight landed at the INS Garuda Kochi Naval Air Station after several days. Water level in Pampa river river, which flows through the district, is likely to have risen after fresh downpour around 1 am. It is scheduled to remain closed until August 26.

The monsoon rains are forecast to ease from Sunday but the flood waters are expected to remain for some time to come. So far, 324 people have lost their lives due to the floods. In the worst affected Chengannur in Alappuzha district, efforts are on to rescue some of those stranded in certain pockets, including Pandanad. Kerala's monsoon showers this year have been 41 percent more than normal, contrasting with nationwide rainfall, which is 8 percent below average, the department said. India receives its annual rainfall from June-October.

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"More helicopters, boats and other equipment are being sought and Modi promised to provide all of these as fast as possible", Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Authorities have warned that rains and strong winds are predicted for many parts of Kerala on Saturday and Sunday.

Heavy rains began earlier this month and have caused landslides, the destruction of property and the collapse of bridges and infrastructure.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has launched its biggest-ever rescue operation to date. Over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps, he said.

At least two trains carrying about 1.5 million liters (400,000 gallons) of water moved to the flooded areas from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra on Sunday, Indian railway official Milind Deouskar said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

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