Flood disaster in india affects hundreds of thousands of people

Flood disaster in india affects hundreds of thousands of people

People are bringing their belongings to safety in rescue boats, many have to cling to roofs, hundreds of thousands are staying in shelters: the worst flood in 100 years, according to official figures, has the sudindian state of kerala firmly in its grip.

Water masses have reached more than 100.000 people cut off from the outside world. The state government is making efforts to bring drinking water, food and medicines to them by air, kerala agriculture minister VS sunil kumar said on sunday.

With rainfall slowly easing, the task now is to care for the survivors and get the situation under control. The challenge for the helpers is immense: between 800.000 and 1 million people are housed in emergency shelters, kumar said. Tens of thousands were still waiting on roofs for help. Children, sick and elderly people were airlifted to safety.

In the region, which is also popular with tourists, more than 40 rivers have overflowed their banks and 80 dams had to be opened. Streets have turned into rivers, bridges have collapsed, in many places there are no telephone connections and no electricity, and there is a risk of epidemics. It is difficult to make contact in remote areas, the crisis staff reported.

Pope francis prayed for the victims in st. Peter’s square on sunday: "may these brothers not lack our solidarity and the concrete support of the international community. (…) let us pray together for those who have lost their lives and for all the people affected by this great misfortune."

Already since 8. August people in kerala fight against the water masses. They are used to heavy rains in the monsoon season – but this year they are unusually heavy. More than 350 people have already died. Most victims drowned or died in landslides. India’s head of government narendra modi promised to send emergency aid.

In many towns and villages, water rose so high that two-story buildings were inundated. Roofs often remain the only place of refuge. "On friday, relatives called us and said they hadn’t had water or food for two days and no help was in sight," said S. Sudarshan, resident of kerala’s capital thiruvananthapuram. Government chief pinarayi vijayan called for the flood to be classified as a national disaster.

More than 3.7 million people have been provided for in rescue camps so far, government says. 1,300 personnel, 30 military helicopters and around 400 boats were involved in the rescue operation. In some places, rescuers borrow boats from fishermen to search for victims. Pictures showed old women holding bundles of their most precious possessions as they were brought to safety by boat.

Government leader narendra modi pledged emergency aid of 5 billion rupees (about 60 million euros). However, the state government is demanding 20 billion rupees. The damages had already reached a high of 195 billion rupees (2.4 billion euros), according to estimates.

The monsoon season in india lasts from june to september. The rainstorms are essential for the region’s agriculture, but can cause enormous destruction.

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