Floods kill at least 100, thousands evacuated

NEW DELHI: Floods have killed at least 100 people and displaced hundreds of thousands across much of India with the southern state of Kerala worst hit, authorities said on Saturday.
With rains predicted to worsen in coming days, the government ordered military teams to form rescue units and airlift food to stranded villages across Kerala.
At least 48 people have died since Thursday in floods in Kerala, where the beaches and hill resorts are a major international tourist magnet, state police spokesman Pramod Kumar said.
In neighbouring Karnataka, at least 24 people have been killed with nine people missing. Maharashtra and Gujarat have also been badly hit by annual monsoon storms.
Media reports said at least 27 people have lost their lives in Maharashtra, with several major roads closed by floods. Storm accidents killed eight people in the key Gujarat cities of Ahmedabad and Nadiad.
The worst fears are for Kerala where the police spokesman said about 120,000 people have moved into emergency relief camps.
“There are around 80 places where flood and rains have triggered mudslides, which we cannot reach,” Kumar added.
“About 200 people are stranded at one place. We are trying to use air force helicopters to drop food to them.”
Kerala’s main airport at Kochi has been closed since Friday. About 500 people died in floods in the state last year which were the worst in nearly a century.
More than 600 relief camps in Karnataka are now filled with 161,000 people, a state disaster management authority official said.
“The rains have eased in the region and we think the water will soon start to recede. There are parts of northern Karnataka, coastal regions and the Western Ghats which are badly hit,” the official added.
While the monsoon rains are crucial to replenishing water supplies, they kill hundreds of people every year.
DARING ACT: An 8-month pregnant woman and an 11-month-old baby were among the seven people rescued in a two-hour operation by the Kerala Fire Force near Attapadi in the Palakkad district on Saturday amid cheers by crowd.
They were holed up on a tiny island in the swollen Bhavani River, near Attapadi. Due to heavy rains in the area for the past three days, the river was in spate. The authorities had tried since Friday to convince them to shift to a safer place, but they refused.
“We urged them to move to safer place. But Lavanya, the pregnant woman, was not sure about effect of the safety harness belt on the baby,” said the Fire Force official.
“Today the river was in spate and the district collector and police authorities gave us the permission to forcefully rescue them. We had to speak to them for two hours before they agreed. One by one, we took them over the swelled river, without any issues,” said the officer.
They had made elaborate arrangements and had kept an ambulance and a gynaecologist ready. The moment Lavanya reached the other side crossing the 25-metre wide river, she was taken to the nearest hospital. “She is doing fine,” said the officer.
On the other side of the river there were a huge crowd, including half a dozen good local swimmers who knew the river well.
They were ready for any emergency. But it was a perfect rescue act, to great relief of rescue team, the waiting crowd and those rescued. — Agencies