India flood death toll jumps to 357

Rescuers plead for help as thousands stranded in flooded Kerala

Thousands of people in flood-hit areas in Kerala are battling all odds to survive as the death toll has crossed 195 in the past 10 days in the second spell of monsoon fury since August 8.

Navy personnel airlift people to safety during a rescue operation at a flooded area in Paravoor, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 18, 2018.

Thousands of stranded people are awaiting rescue as monsoon floods continue to batter the Indian state of Kerala.

Bedraggled survivors massing at evacuation centres have described desperate scenes after days without food or water. At Chengannur alone in Alappuzha district, at least 5,000 are stranded, according to revenue officials.

"We will restore power supply, fix damaged water pipelines and roads and help rehabilitate all".

Some 300,000 people have taken shelter in more than 1,500 state-run relief camps, officials said. Crops in over 40,000 hectares have been destroyed, they said.

Among the dead was a mother and son in Mala, whose home collapsed around them late Saturday. Another was a local man who volunteered for the search and rescue mission.

"The UAE government, under the leadership of President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum have underlined their support to Kerala through the formation of the special committee".

Thousands of army, navy and air force troops have fanned out across Kerala to assist as distress calls sound out across the idyllic tourist hotspot.

These improving weather conditions could make it easier for rescue workers trying to reach the almost 10,000 people who are still stranded. Helicopters have been used to airlift stranded victims from rooftops and to drop food and water packages in the worst-affected areas. The water level has started receding in some parts, reported India Today.

Besides, the SBI has encouraged all its 270,000 staffers to contribute to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF), and the bank would contribute an equivalent amount. Indicating the extent of worldwide attention the Kerala floods have drawn, at St Peter's Square in the Vatican on Sunday, worshippers held aloft signs reading "Pray for Kerala".

Many panic-stricken flood victims have resorted to appeals on social media, saying they can not get through to rescue services.

Fingers crossed, Kerala has taken the first tentative steps towards a long march to normality and what is beginning to look like an arduous rehabilitation challenge thrown by floods that have claimed 370 lives since May-end.

There have been moments of cheer amid the tragedy.

Rains in the catchment areas of the big dams in Idukki district have also subsided, enabling the authorities to shut down two of Idukki dam's five floodgates.

The floods during India's monsoon season have triggered landslides and sent torrents sweeping through villages amid warnings of worse weather to come. Over four lakh people are housed in 3026 relief camps across the state.

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