IndiaDeath toll has leapt to 67, with local authorities issuing a “red-alert warning”.

Floods sweep Kerala, closing its main airport

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Severe flooding in Kerala has caused 67 deaths and closed its main airport till Saturday.
Severe flooding in Kerala has caused 67 deaths and closed its main airport till Saturday. Photo Credit: skynavin/Getty Images

The death toll is a jump from the 25 initially reported on Wednesday (August 15), and more than 50,000 people are seeking shelter in relief camps, a state official told AFP. 

Floods sweeping through India’s southern tourist hotspot Kerala have caused 67 deaths so far, with its main airport remaining closed till Saturday (August 18). 

The death toll is a jump from the 25 initially reported on Wednesday (August 15), and more than 50,000 people are seeking shelter in relief camps, a state official told AFP. 

“The situation is bad in many parts of the state and the number [of deaths] will likely increase,” a senior from the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority told AFP.

Monsoon rains, a usual occurrence each year, have been particularly severe this year, flooding hundreds of villages and prompting authorities to suspend flights in and out of the region.

Unconfirmed local media reports mentioned a much higher toll and cited ongoing efforts to reach many flooded areas.

According to the official, authorities had issued a “red-alert” warning in all 14 districts of the flood-ravaged state, with heavy downpours expected over the next 24 hours in many of the worst affected areas.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office announced on Twitter that Kochi International Airport – the main gateway to the region – would be closed until Saturday “due to heavy rains and resultant flooding”.

“We have asked all airlines, domestic and foreign, to reschedule their Cochin flights either from Trivandrum or from Calicut," Suresh Prabhu, India's civil aviation minister said on Twitter.

"For international flights, this will require special dispensation, which has been granted considering the emergency DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) is coordinating," he added.

The US embassy last week advised Americans to avoid Kerala, which drew more than one million foreign tourists last year, according to official data.

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