About 200 people dead as torrential rainfalls let up in India


Torrential rains have finally let up in India’s flood-hit Kerala which has killed almost 200 people

Downpours since August 8 caused the worst floods in a century in the state, also displaced more than half a million people who are now crammed in relief camps.

Authorities now fear there could be an outbreak of disease in the camps where about 725,000 people are taking refuge.

Anil Vasudevan, who handles disaster management at Kerala’s health department, said authorities had isolated three people with chickenpox in one of the relief camps in Aluva town, nearly 250 km (155 miles) from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

He said the department was preparing to deal with a possible outbreak of water-borne and air-borne diseases in the camps.

The India Meteorological Department forecast heavy rainfall in only one or two parts of Kerala on Sunday and withdrew a red alert in several districts.

Using boats and helicopters, India’s military led rescue efforts to reach people in communities cut off for days, with many trapped on roofs and upper floors, in desperate need of food and clean water.

Rescue teams were focused on the town of Chengannur on the banks of the Pamba River, where about 5,000 people are feared to be trapped, officials said.

Kerala’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the total number of people taking refuge at the 5,645 relief camps had risen to 725,000.

Thirteen deaths were reported on Sunday, he added, taking the total number confirmed to nearly 200.

Kerala, which usually receives high rainfall, has seen more than 250 percent more rain than normal between Aug. 8 and Aug. 15. State authorities have had to release water from 35 dangerously full dams, sending a surge into the main river.