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Death toll tops 400 as floods recede in India’s Kerala

Floodwaters have receded in India’s Kerala, with the rescue workers now seeking to find the dead bodies amid a trail of debris and destruction left by the latest wave of torrential rains in the southern state.

Officials said at least 30 bodies were retrieved during the search operations on Sunday, taking the death toll above 200 since the monsoon rains began on August 8 and more than 400 since they first started to hit the region in June

After more than a week of fierce downpours, rainfall eased on Monday.

Commercial flight operations to Kochi, the state’s main city, resumed after the navy opened its airstrips for small passenger aircraft. The city’s international airport had been ordered shut until Sunday.

Officials said 22,000 people have been rescued, adding that at least 1,000 people were feared stranded in five villages around Chengannur, one of the districts worst hit by the deluge.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the priority now was to provide clean drinking water and restore power supplies to the state of 33 million people.

A mini-truck makes its way down a flooded road in Paravur on the outskirts of Kochi in the south Indian state of Kerala, on August 20, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

“The total number of people taking refuge at the 5,645 relief camps has risen to 724,649,” Vijayan said on Sunday.

Health officers had been dispatched to each village to help stop the spread of communicable diseases, he added.

Water, food and medicine are also being dropped down by dozens of helicopters over areas cut off due to damaged roads and bridges.

Thousands of army, navy and air force personnel have been deployed to the remote and hilly areas.

Officials estimate that losses to infrastructure reach around $3 billion.

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