Death toll from heavy rains in India’s Kerala climbs to 21

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The death toll in landslides and flooding following heavy rains in India’s southern state of Kerala climbed to 21 on Sunday, officials said.

Torrential rains since Saturday led state authorities to request the help of the Indian military for rescue and relief operations.

Thirteen people died in Kotayyam while eight more rain-related fatalities were reported from Idukki, according to the state information department.

A dozen people, some of them children, were missing in Idukki, media reports said.

The intensity of the rain had reduced in most parts of Kerala by Sunday morning after continuous rain overnight.

Teams from the National Disaster Response Force were also deployed for relief and rescue operations.

“We are continuously monitoring the situation in parts of Kerala in the wake of heavy rainfall and flooding. The central government will provide all possible support to help people in need. National Disaster Response Force have already been sent to assist the rescue operations. Praying for everyone’s safety,” federal home minister Amit Shah said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences to the families of the victims and spoke to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Earlier, Vijayan held a meeting to monitor rescue efforts and said all means will be used to evacuate people stranded in areas flooded due to heavy rains in state.

He directed relief camps to follow Covid-19 protocols. Masks, santizers, drinking water and medicines were made available in camps.

The unseasonal rains – coming after the monsoon season – were caused by a low-pressure system over the adjoining Arabian Sea.

The state’s main pilgrimage at the prominent Sabarimala shrine was postponed in view of the weather.

India’s weather office has forecast light to moderate showers in the region over the next 24-48 hours.

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