More than one million Indians packed in flood relief camps

More than one million Indians packed in flood relief camps

CHENGANNUR - More than one million people have packed relief camps to escape devastating monsoon floods that have killed more than 410 people in India’s southwestern state of Kerala, officials said Tuesday.

About 50,000 homes have been destroyed, according to one Kerala legislator, and people are flocking to the camps as the scale of the desolation is revealed by receding waters.

A total of 1,028,000 people were now recorded in about 3,200 relief camps across the state, a state government spokesman told AFP. Six more bodies were found Monday, he added, taking the toll to more than 410 since the monsoon started in June.

At Chengannur, one of the worst-hit towns, more than 60 centimetres (two feet) of water still blocked many roads as more rain fell Tuesday.

Army teams said several thousand people in the town remained in homes inundated by 10 days of torrential downpours that have battered the state.

Rescue teams in Chengannur on Tuesday finally reached the house of retired army officer K.G. Pillai, who said up to 2.4 metres (eight feet) of water had engulfed the house where his family had lived since 1952.

"In the past there has never been more than one foot of floods and people are not used to this," he said. Many roads and homes around Pillai’s house remained inaccessible.

"Around 26 people moved into the first floor of our home" to take refuge from the floods, he said.

A senior army officer involved in the rescue operation in Chengannur said authorities believed most of the people left in town did not want to be evacuated and were instead seeking food and water.

"We received a distress call late yesterday to rescue a disabled child and will be going in today on boats to check if there are others who need assistance," he said. - APP/AFP