Flash floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala have killed at least 37 people, prompting authorities to place eight of the state's districts on high alert.
Torrential rains and landslides during India's ongoing monsoon season have forced over 30,000 people to take shelter in rescue camps, according to the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority's (KSDMA) control room in state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
The army has been called in to help with rescue efforts in Kerala, popular among tourists for its pristine, palm-lined beaches, backwaters and traditional medical therapies.
The US embassy has advised its citizens to avoid the affected districts and monitor local media for weather updates.
The weather department expects heavy rains to continue until next Wednesday, leaving the low-lying coastal areas particularly vulnerable.
'Unprecedented flood havoc'
Authorities took the unprecedented step of opening the floodgates of 25 water reservoirs to prevent potentially disastrous breaches.
"Our state is in the midst of an unprecedented flood havoc," Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
"The calamity has caused immeasurable misery and devastation. Many lives were lost. Hundreds of homes were totally destroyed," he said.
Federal home minister Rajnath Singh is expected to travel to the state on Sunday to take a stock of the relief and rescue operations.
ap/jm (AFP, Reuters)
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