Monsoon floods wreak havoc on India, death toll up

The death toll from a fresh spell of monsoon-driven floods in India has jumped to 154 and affected more than 1 million residents, officials said on Sunday.

Heavy rain and landslides have also forced hundreds of thousands of people in southern and western India to take shelter in relief camps, while train services were cancelled in several flood-hit areas.

Read more: Indian navy rescues 700 passengers from flooded train

Officials warned that fuel shortages were widespread in districts that were cut off from larger cities.

The states of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat were the worst-hit, but others like Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Andhra Pradesh have also reported flooding.

Authorities said rescue teams from the disaster response force, army, navy and air force were deployed in those states for rescue and relief operations.

In the state of Kerala alone, at least 57 people were killed in rain-related incidents. "Several houses are still covered under 10-12 feet (3-3.6 meters) of deep mud. This is hampering rescue work," Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

"The flood situation remains grim and agencies are on high alert in six districts. Many deaths have been reported in rain-triggered landslides in Wayanad and Malappuram districts," a government official in Kerala said.

Immense destruction

Authorities remain worried that rescue operations would be hit by thunderstorms and rainfall predicted in some parts of Kerala.

In neighboring Karnataka state, several structures at world heritage site Hampi, an ancient town, were flooded.

India's monsoon season lasts from June to September. It sees heavy rains which refill the country's water reservoirs and are vital for agriculture, but cause immense destruction and loss of life.

Dozens died in floods in India, particularly in the eastern states of Bihar and Assam, last month, with the inundation causing heavy losses to farms, homes and infrastructure.

Experts point to rising deforestation, poor urban planning and increased urbanization as the reasons behind the rise in the intensity of the floods.

India's main opposition Congress party called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide relief packages.

sri/jlw (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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