Kerala monsoon floods take 73 lives

Published: August 16, 2018 15:25:28 | Updated: August 18, 2018 21:57:34

Rescue personnel patrolling the flooded waters on the banks of Periyar River after the opening of Idamalayar and Cheruthoni dam shutters following heavy rains, on the outskirts of Kochi on Friday - Reuters Photo

Flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains in the southern Indian state of Kerala has killed at least 73 people, shut down an airport and displaced more than 85,000 people, officials have said.

The state government said many of those who died were crushed under debris caused by landslides.

The Cochin International Airport, one of India's busiest, has been shut until 18 August due to a flooded runway.

India's meteorological department has issued a "red alert" in the state.

Rescue operations are under way and the federal government has sent additional forces to assist local efforts, says a BBC report.

"We're witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters.

"Almost all dams are now opened. Most of our water treatment plants are submerged, motors are damaged."

He added that the failure of the state government of neighbouring Tamil Nadu to release water from a dam had made the situation worse.

Kerala has 44 rivers flowing into the Arabian sea.

On Wednesday alone, the state reported 25 deaths, with officials warning that the toll was likely to rise.

India's Prime Minister and Home Minister have both offered federal support to the state.

Schools in all 14 districts of Kerala have been closed down and some districts have banned tourists citing safety concerns.

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