India flood crisis mounts as 324 confirmed dead

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Flood affected people are rescued in a tractor, right as volunteers go for rescue work in a truck, left, at Kainakary in Alappuzha district, Kerala state, India, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. (AP)
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Indian volunteers and rescue personal evacuate local residents in a residential area at Aluva in Ernakulam district, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 17, 2018. (AFP)
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People are airlifted by the Indian Navy soldiers during a rescue operation at a flooded area in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 17, 2018. (REUTERS)
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People help a woman disembark from an Indian Navy helicopter at a relief camp after being rescued from a flooded area in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 17, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Indian navy and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in an boat at Aluva, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. (AFP)
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Indian volunteers and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in a boat in a residential area at Kozhikode, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. (AFP)
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Fire and Rescue personnel evacuate local residents in an inflatable boat from a flooded area at Muppathadam near Eloor in Kochi's Ernakulam district, in the Indian state of Kerala on August 15, 2018. (AFP)
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Fire and Rescue personnel evacuate local residents in an inflatable boat from a flooded area at Muppathadam near Eloor in Kochi's Ernakulam district, in the Indian state of Kerala on August 15, 2018. Indian authorities on August 15 suspended all flights at Kochi international airport for three days as severe monsoon flooding took a growing toll in Kerala state. (AFP)
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Indian fire and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in an boat flooded following monsoon rains at Aluva, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. (AFP)
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Indian commuters travel in a truck to a safer place as flood waters ravaged the National Highway 47 in Ernakulam district of Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. (AFP)
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An Indian man walks through the premises of a hospital that was flooded due to heavy rains in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala state, India, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. (AP)
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Submerged vehicles on a flooded street are pictured following monsoon rains in Kochi, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. (AFP)
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India residents stand on the shore as Periyar river flooded following monsoon rains at Aluva, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. (AFP)
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People wait to be rescued in a country boat in a flooded area at Kainakary in Alappuzha district, Kerala state, India, Friday, Aug. 17, 2018. (AP)
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A boy swims through flood waters to crossover to his house on the outskirts of Kozhikode district, about 385 km north of Trivandrum, in the south Indian state of Kerala, on August 17, 2018. (AFP)
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Indian navy and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in an boat at Aluva, in the Indian state of Kerala, on August 16, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2018
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India flood crisis mounts as 324 confirmed dead

  • More than 10,000 kilometers of roads and hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged across the state
  • A heavy rainfall ‘red-alert’ has been issued across much of the state, which is home to around 33 million people

KOCHI, India: The death toll from floods that have triggered landslides and sent torrents sweeping through villages in the Indian state of Kerala trebled Friday to 324, authorities said, amid warnings of worse weather to come.
Hundreds of troops and local fishermen are staging desperate rescue attempts with helicopters and boats across the southern state, which draws international tourists to its tropical hills and beaches.
Kerala has been battered by record monsoon rainfall this year and is “facing the worst floods in 100 years,” chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Twitter statement, adding that 324 lives had been lost so far.
With thousands still trapped, power and communication lines down and fresh alerts of further torrential rain, authorities warned of more trouble ahead and further deaths to come.
“We are deploying more boats and the army to ramp up rescue operations,” senior state government official P.H. Kurian told AFP.
More than 30 military helicopters and 320 boats are attempting rescues across Kerala.
Authorities said thousands of people have been taken to safety so far but 6,000 more are still waiting for rescue.
Helicopters have also been dropping emergency food and water supplies, while special trains carrying drinking water have been sent to Kerala.

According to India’s weather bureau, since the beginning of June more than 321 centimeters (126 inches) of rain has fallen on the hilly central Kerala district of Idukki, which is now virtually cut off from the rest of the state.
With no end in sight to the deluge, people all over the state of 33 million have made panic-stricken appeals on social media for help, saying they cannot make contact with rescue services.
“My family and neighboring families are in trouble,” wrote Ajo Varghese, a resident of the coastal city of Alappuzha, in a Facebook post that quickly went viral.
“No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable... Please help,” he added.

Other messages have been sent from people trapped inside temples and hospitals as well as their homes.
The Kerala government has said it faces an “extremely grave” crisis and state chief minister Vijayan warned of a further rainfall hitting the battered region over the weekend. Strong winds have also been predicted for Saturday and Sunday.
The gates of dozens of dams and reservoirs across the state have been opened as water levels reach danger levels, inundating many other villages.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the stricken state on Friday night, Vijayan’s office tweeted, with media reports saying the premier would undertake an aerial survey of the worst affected areas on Saturday.
North and central Kerala have been worst-hit by the floods with the international airport in the main city of Kochi shut until at least August 26.
At least 310,000 people displaced from across the state are taking shelter in more than 2,000 relief camps.
On top of tourist cancelations, Kerala’s valuable rubber industry has been badly hit by the floods.
The government says 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) of Kerala roads have been destroyed or damaged, along with thousands of homes.
Reports said electricity supplies to more than half the state have been cut. The state power company said that only one million people were affected, however.
The home ministry announced separately that 868 people have been reported dead in seven Indian states including Kerala since the start of the monsoon in June.

 


Winter storm forces airline cancelations, road troubles in US

Updated 35 min 41 sec ago
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Winter storm forces airline cancelations, road troubles in US

  • Plane carrying 129 people skids from a slick Chicago runway
  • The massive storm which dumped 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow on some areas in the US Midwest

DETROIT, USA: A plane carrying 129 people skidded Saturday from a slick Chicago runway and a plow driver was killed when his truck rolled over outside Kansas City following a winter storm that covered many parts of the Midwest in snow and ice.
No injuries were reported on the United Airlines flight at O’Hare International Airport as it arrived Saturday morning from Phoenix, Chicago Fire officials said. The massive storm which dumped 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow on some areas in the Midwest prompted the cancelation of nearly 1,000 flights at Chicago’s airports. The average delay at O’Hare was nearly an hour Saturday afternoon.
Kansas Department of Transportation snowplow Stephen Windler, 25, died about 6 a.m. Saturday on US Highway 69, according to the Wichita Eagle . A police crash report says his truck “traveled to the right, traversing the shoulder and drove into the grass” before it rolled over. Windler was thrown from the vehicle which landed on top of him.
The storm moved Saturday toward the Northeast and New England. Some northern parts of New England could see up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow.
A 15-vehicle crash blocked a section of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve Saturday afternoon and drivers were urged to find an alternative route. In Detroit, many motorists were moving well below posted speed limits along freeways due to slushy conditions. Amtrak canceled some trains Saturday from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania on Sunday.
In Nebraska, authorities closed Omaha’s Eppley Airfield on Friday afternoon after a Southwest Airlines plane slid off an ice-slicked runway. No one was injured. The airfield later reopened.
The snow was part of a wall of hazardous weather that moved from the Dakotas across the Great Lakes states. The storm brought snow, ice and strong winds, followed by deep cold. The highest snowfall totals were expected in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, which could see up to 18 inches (46) centimeters.
But some Midwesterners weren’t going to let a little winter weather keep them from going outside.
In downtown Detroit, Celeste Tremmel was out training for a marathon amid heavy and steady snowfall.
“When you run a marathon, you run no matter the weather,” said Tremmel, who plans to run a March marathon in South Carolina.
Running in snow is “like running in sand, so you go a lot slower and it’s a lot more work,” she said. “I’m really tired ... but 40 degrees, wind and hail is worse.”
Further east, the National Weather Service in Albany, New York, said snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.5 centimeters) an hour, creating “difficult to impossible travel conditions” in areas.
The storm prompted the cancelation of a Special Olympics competition in upstate New York. Nearly 200 athletes from around New York state were expected to compete in snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross country, and Nordic and Alpine skiing at West Mountain, just outside Glens Falls.
In New York City, the worst of the storm was expected from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, with snow accumulations of 3-6 inches (7.5-15 centimeters), followed by rain that could turn to ice as temperatures drop later Sunday. Single-digit temperatures could last into Monday. Strong wind gusts beginning Sunday afternoon could bring down snow- or ice-burdened tree limbs and power lines.
Following the storm system, some areas of the Midwest were expecting high winds and bitter cold.
In Iowa, temperatures in the teens Saturday were expected to drop below zero (-17 Celsius) overnight, producing wind chills as low as 20-below (-29 Celsius) by Sunday morning.