Rescue missions underway after monsoons kill 324 in India


Death Toll Surpasses 350 in India's Kerala Flooding

Authorities have warned that rains and strong winds are predicted for many parts of Kerala on Saturday and Sunday.

Rescue and relief volunteers say, on the basis of what they are beginning to see in some places where water is receding, that many houses have been rendered unliveable.

The monsoon season in India started in June, but Kerala has been hit with 37 percent more rainfall according to the India Meteorological Department.

BBC Tamil's Pramila Krishnan spoke to people who had escaped the flooding in Cochin.

India has deployed thousands of soldiers and dozens of helicopters to rescue people marooned.

Mr Arun Kumar, who lives in Bangalore in Karnataka state, was getting ready to take a flight to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to search for his mother, Madam Omana Rajan, with whom he lost touch last Friday.

"They were the scariest hours of our life", 20-year-old Inderjeet Kumar told AFP at a church doubling as a relief shelter in the hard-hit Thrissur district. My heart goes out to the people affected by the floods and I hope they will find the strength and resolve to overcome the crisis.

The exact death toll is not known but it is thought to be in the thousands.

300,000 Number of residents displaced.

State-run relief camps have been set up in schools, colleges and other public buildings across the state.

He said he had been calling several helplines with little luck.

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Rs 400/kg Price of green chilli in Kochi and surrounding areas as vegetable prices soared in Kerala's worst floods since 1924. CII said it is in touch with various government agencies and local authorities to assess the situation and initiate most urgent relief operations in the affected areas.

The Cabinet Secretary directed five more helicopters to be mobilised by IAF, Navy and ONGC which will be pressed into service by tomorrow.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates, where many Keralites work, has also offered assistance to the state.

"It was a very critical case, the lady was in labour, her water had broken", the pilot, the pilot Commandeer Vijay Verma told News18 television.

Additional motorboats have also been put on standby for deployment.So far, various Central Ministries have made available food, water and medicines which include 3,00,000 food packets, 6,00,000 MT of milk, 14,00,000 litres of drinking water, 150 potable water purification kits with capacity of 1,00,000 litre each.

One of his advisers, Prabha Varma, told Reuters 186 people had died since August 8, when the waters began to rise. A body blow has been dealt to the scenic state, with its infrastructure, standing crops and tourism facilities severely hit.

The airport at Kochi, the commercial capital of the state, was also submerged in floodwaters.

At Kerala's Cochin International Airport, runways are underwater and it is expected to remain closed until August 26.

Vijayan said initial estimates were that the state had suffered losses of almost $2.8 billion.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted an aerial survey of the state and announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh to the next kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to those critically injured.

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