India floods kill 164, people pulled from rooftops

Associated Press

New Delhi – Rescuers used helicopters and boats on Friday to evacuate thousands of people stranded on their rooftops following unprecedented flooding in the southern Indian state of Kerala that left more than 160 dead.

With heavy rains stopping after a week, rescuers moved quickly to shift those marooned by floods to 1,200 state-run camps where more than 150,000 people already have taken shelter.

Heavy rains over the past eight days triggered flooding, landslides and home and bridge collapses, severely disrupting air and train services in Kerala state, a popular tourist destination with scenic landscapes, waterfalls and beautiful beaches.

State officials have put the death toll at 164 since Aug. 8.

Monsoon rains kill hundreds of people every year in India. The season runs from June to September.

The monsoon flooding has severely hit 12 of Kerala’s 14 districts, affecting the lives of more than 200,000 people with hundreds of homes damaged since June. Crops over 32,500 hectares (80,300 acres) of land have also been damaged, the Home Ministry said.

The international airport at Kochi, a major port city, has suspended flight operations until Saturday after the runway was flooded. Authorities also asked tourists to stay away from the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki district because of flooding.

India’s National Emergency Response Center said more than 800 people have lost their lives in seven states since the start of the monsoon season in June. A total of 247 people have died in Kerala, 190 in Uttar Pradesh, 183 people in West Bengal, 139 in Maharashtra, 52 in Gujarat, 45 in Assam and 11 in Nagaland state, the Press Trust of India reported.