Authorities in the southern state, which is home to 33 million people, have placed local agencies on the highest alert level in what has turned out to be Kerala’s worst monsoon in almost a century.
Kerala is battered by the monsoon every year but the rains have been particularly severe since August 8, flooding hundreds of villages and prompting the authorities to suspend flights in and out of the region.
More than 60,000 people have sought shelter in relief camps and the army and navy have been called in to assist with rescue operations, airlifting people to hospital, according to the official.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office announced on Twitter that Kochi International Airport – the main gateway to the region – would be closed until Saturday “due to heavy rains and resultant flooding”.
The chief minister has requested the deployment of additional personnel from the Indian army, navy and other emergency forces who are already working across the state, famed for its pristine palm-lined beaches and tea plantations.Hundreds of villages have been flooded, more than 10,000km of roads and thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged across the state, officials said.