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    Saturday, 11 August 2018

    Flash flood in India claimed 37 lives in Kerala state, prompting US travel alert

     Flash floods in Kerala have killed 37 people and displaced around 36,000, Indian officials said Saturday, after heavy monsoons led to landslides and overflowing reservoirs across the southern state.
    Kerala, famed for its pristine palm-lined beaches and tea plantations, is battered by the monsoon every year but the rains have been particularly severe this season.
    Those forced from their homes "have moved to 350 relief camps across the state", an official at the Kerala State Disaster Management control room told AFP.
    The army has been roped in for rescue efforts in Kerala after two days of heavy rain drove authorities to open the shutters of 27 reservoirs to drain out the excess water.
    One of the five shutters of a large reservoir in the mountainous Idukki district was opened for the first time in 26 years.
    "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 added, lauding the efforts of rescue teams working in the state from across India.
    The US embassy Thursday advised its citizens to avoid the areas affected and monitor local media for weather updates.
    More than a million foreign tourists visited Kerala last year, according to official data.
    The government of Kerala, which has a population of 33 million people, has imposed a ban on the movement of lorries and tourist vehicles in Idukki.
    In Kerala the army has been roped in for rescue efforts after two days of rain that have forced authorities to open the shutters of 24 reservoirs to drain out the excess water. Some 20,000 people have been displaced and 260 relief camps have been set up. Fifty-seven tourists including 24 foreigners were stranded in the hill station of Munnar.
    One of the five shutters of a large reservoir in the mountainous Idukki district was opened for the first time in 26 years.
    "Twenty-four dams have been opened so far, which is unprecedented and is telling of the seriousness of the situation," Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wote on Twitter.
    "People living in the downstream areas of these dams must be cautious."
    In view of the devastation, the US embassy Thursday advised its citizens to avoid the areas affected and constantly monitor local media for weather updates.
    Over a million foreign tourists visited Kerala last year, according to official data.
    The government of Kerala, which has a population of 33 million people, has imposed a ban on the movement of lorries and tourist vehicles in Idukki.
    The monsoon, which lasts roughly from June to September, has claimed more than 70 lives across the state this year and damaged crops worth millions of dollars.
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