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'Worst flood in 100 years' kills more than 320 people in southern India

'Worst flood in 100 years' kills more than 320 people in southern India
People are evacuated in Kozhikode, in the southern Indian state of Kerala, on Thursday. (K. Shijith / Associated Press)

Rescuers used helicopters and boats Friday to evacuate thousands of people stranded on their rooftops following devastating flooding in the southern Indian state of Kerala that killed more than 320 people, officials said.

“Kerala state is facing its worst flood in 100 years,” the office of the top state elected official, Pinarayi Vijayan, said in a statement on Twitter.

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With heavy rain stopping after a week, rescuers moved quickly to take those marooned by floods to 1,500 state-run camps. They used more than a dozen helicopters and about 400 boats across the state, relief officials said.

Vijayan told reporters that at least 324 people had died and more than 220,000 had taken refuge in the camps.

Heavy rain over eight days triggered flooding, landslides and home and bridge collapses, disrupting air and train services in Kerala, a tourist destination with scenic landscapes, waterfalls and beaches.

The New Delhi Television news channel reported that the state was facing a new crisis with some hospitals facing shortages of oxygen and gas stations running short of fuel.

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

The latest flooding has severely hit 12 of Kerala’s 14 districts, with thousands of homes damaged since June. Crops on 80,300 acres have also been damaged, the Home Ministry said.

The international airport at Kochi, a major port city, 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.

More than 1,000 people have lost their lives in seven states since the start of this monsoon season, including 407 in Kerala. In addition, 190 people have died in Uttar Pradesh, 183 in West Bengal, 139 in Maharashtra, 52 in Gujarat, 45 in Assam and 11 in Nagaland state, officials and the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

People move past a flooded road in Thrissur, in Kerala, on Friday. Rescuers used helicopters and boats to evacuate thousands of people.
People move past a flooded road in Thrissur, in Kerala, on Friday. Rescuers used helicopters and boats to evacuate thousands of people. (Associated Press)
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