The death toll from a flood in the southern Indian state of Kerala was close to 400 on Monday as authorities handed out drugs and disinfectants to prevent illness in thousands.
Dozens of people are missing and 1.2 million are housed in the camps, state officials said, as the water receded and cleanup operations gained momentum amidst the worst flooding in the area in a century.
“The death toll has risen to 373,” a head of the state’s disaster management authority told Reuters.
Kerala registered rains that were more than 40 percent higher than normal for the monsoon season, which runs from June to September, and torrential rains in the last 10 days forced water to be released from dozens of dangerously full dams.
The Indian government classified the floods as a “calamity of a serious nature”. Kerala has issued a request for a national disaster declaration, which if accepted by the federal government, is likely to generate increased funding commitments for relief and reconstruction efforts.
Federal Health Minister JP Nadda said more than 3,500 medical camps were built in the region, which is similar in size to Switzerland, where rainfall since August 8 has increased river flows and led to landslides.
“The biggest immediate challenges are to clean the houses affected by landslides, rehabilitation and the prevention of water-borne diseases,” said Mahesh P., an official from Rayamangalam, a village about 45 kilometers from Kochi, the capital Kerala financial
On Monday, mild and moderate rains were expected in Kerala, which would give a respite to rescue teams, who have faced floods and landslides to reach tens of thousands of affected villagers.
Alvin Mathews was born and raised in Tampa. Alvin has worked as a freelance journalist for half a decade and written for Tribune Media, the AP and MSNBC. As a journalist for Miami Morning Star, Alvin mostly covers community events and human interest stories.