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Monday , September 16 2019

Death toll from India floods rises to 95, hundreds of thousands evacuated

In this handout photo provided by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), NDRF personnel help move flood victims to safer areas in Wayanad district, in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Dozens of people have died and some 100,000 moved to relief camps following flash floods and mudslides caused by days of torrential rains in the southern Indian state of Kerala. (AP)

The death toll from floods in India’s states of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra rose to 95, official figures showed on Saturday, as heavy rain and landslides forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate their homes. Seasonal monsoon rains from June to September are a crucial lifeline for agrarian Indian society, delivering 70% of the country’s rainfall, but they also bring in their wake death and destruction every year.

“Our entire village under water for the last eight days but still we haven’t got any assistance from the government,” said farmer Prashant Lathe, 35, from a village in one of the flood-hit districts of the western state of Maharashtra. The district has lost access to all basic amenities such as drinking water, power supply, cooking gas cylinder and petrol for running vehicles, Lathe said.

Excessively strong rains can also harm India’s farming sector, which employs nearly half of its 1.3 billion people. Lathe said his sugar cane plantation of around four acres was submerged.

In the southwestern state of Kerala, some 42 people died and over 100,000 affected people have been evacuated, the central government’s disaster management cell said, after 80 landslides hit the state in two days. The state was opening the gates of Banasurasagar dam in Wayanad district on Saturday to manage water levels and avoid serious damage.

Last year, more than 200 people were killed and over five million affected in one of Kerala’s worst floods in 100 years. Some residents said the sudden opening of dam gates without proper warnings to those living downstream was a big factor in the devastation.

The state’s busiest airport, Cochin International Airport, closed since Friday as the taxiway was water-logged, will resume operations from 0630 GMT on Sunday, the airport management said. (RTRS)

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