PRESSURE intensified yesterday to save thousands trapped by devastating floods that have killed more than 300 in Kerala, triggering landslides and sending torrents sweeping through villages in the region’s worst inundation crisis in a century.
Authorities warned of more torrential rain and strong winds over the weekend, as hundreds of troops and fishermen staged desperate rescue attempts in helicopters and boats.
Kerala, popular among international tourists for its tropical hills and beaches, has been battered by record monsoon rainfall this year.
The state is “facing the worst floods in 100 years”, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Twitter, adding that 324 lives have been lost.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the state on Friday night, Vijayan’s office tweeted.
People all over the state of 33 million have made panicked appeals on social media for help, saying they cannot make contact with rescue services as power and communication lines are down.
“My family and neighbouring families are in trouble,” wrote Ajo Varghese, a resident of the coastal city of Alappuzha, in a Facebook post that quickly went viral.
“No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable… Please help.”
Other distressed messages were shared online from people trapped inside temples and hospitals as well as their homes.
More than 30 military helicopters and 320 boats are attempting rescues across Kerala after some areas were engulfed by overflowing rivers, with residents seen swimming and wading through chest-high waters.
Authorities said thousands had been taken to safety, but 6,000 more were awaiting rescue.
Helicopters had been dropping emergency food and water, while trains carrying drinking water had been sent to Kerala. AFP