A truck carries people through floodwaters in Thrissur, Kerala state, India. Picture: AP/African News Agency (ANA)
A truck carries people through floodwaters in Thrissur, Kerala state, India. Picture: AP/African News Agency (ANA)
People are airlifted by the Indian Navy in the flooded southern state of Kerala, India, at the weekend. Picture: REUTERS/African News Agency (ANA)
People are airlifted by the Indian Navy in the flooded southern state of Kerala, India, at the weekend. Picture: REUTERS/African News Agency (ANA)
A deluge in India’s flood-stricken south- western state of Kerala finally let up yesterday, giving some respite for thousands of marooned families, while authorities feared an outbreak of disease among twomillion people crammed into relief camps.

Incessant rains since August 8 have caused the state’s worst floods in a century.

At least 186 people have died, many of them killed by landslides.

The beaches and backwaters of Kerala are top destinations for domestic and international tourists, but far fewer visit during the monsoon season.

The India Meteorological Department forecast heavy rainfall only at one or two places of Kerala yesterday and withdrew a red alert in several districts.

Flood waters also began to recede from several places.

Using boats and helicopters, India’s military has led rescue efforts to reach people in communities cut off for days by the floods, with many trapped on roof tops and the upper floors of their homes, and in desperate need of food and potable water.

Rescue teams were focused on the town of Chengannur on the banks of the Pamba River, where some 5000 people are feared to be trapped, officials said.

More than 200000 families have taken refuge at relief camps set up across the state, an official at the Kerala State Disaster Management office said. Kerala’s chief minister had earlier said twomillion people had taken shelter in camps since the monsoon rains began three months ago.

Anil Vasudevan, who handles disaster management at the Kerala health department, said authorities had isolated three people with chickenpox in one of the relief camps in Aluva town, nearly 250km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

He said the department was preparing to deal with a possible outbreak of water-borne and air-borne diseases in the camps.

An estimated 2million people have taken shelter in these camps since the monsoon rains began three months ago.

Kerala, which usually receives high rainfall, has seen over 250% more rain than normal between August 8 and 15, causing the state authorities to release water from 35 dangerously full dams, sending a surge into its main river.

As the rain abated yesterday morning, one resident in Cheranelloor, a suburb of Kochi situated on the banks of the Periyar River, visited his home to see when he and his family could return.

“The entire house is covered with mud. It will take days to clean to make it liveable. All our household articles, including the TV and fridge have been destroyed,” 60-year-old TP Johnny said.

Kochi’s airport is closed owing to water-logging, and Jet Airways has arranged additional flights from Thiruvananthapuram for passengers holding confirmed tickets from Kochi.

India’s national carrier Air India will operate ATR flights from the naval airport in Kochi to Bangalore and Coimbatore, starting today.

On Saturday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that there was no shortage of food in the state as traders had stocked up ahead of a local festival.

“The only problem is transporting it,” he said.

“The central government and public have co-operated well in this effort to fight this disaster.”

He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the state on Saturday, announced assistance of 5billion Indian rupees (R1billion) against his request for 20bn.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates, where many Keralites work, has also offered assistance to the state. - Reuters