At least 79 people have been killed as a result of flooding, landslides and bridge collapses in the southern Indian state of Kerala in the past week, officials have said.
Video source: VCG
The worst floods in nearly a century in the popular tourist destination have led to rising water, which has stranded tens of thousands of people.
The international airport at Kochi, a major port city, suspended flight operations until Saturday after rains flooded the runway.
Rain and floods have destroyed and damaged hundreds of houses in the past week and caused significant losses to crops in a state known for its spices and coffee.
Authorities asked tourists to stay away from the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki district because of flooding.
People have also been asked to avoid the Sabarimala hill shrine as the water level in the nearby rainfed Pamba river was rising. Sabarimala, a Hindu pilgrimage centre in the mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta district, attracts around 45 million devotees each year.
India’s metrological department has forecast heavy to very heavy rain in the state until Saturday, and has issued a “red alert” for 12 out of its 14 districts.
Krishna Kumar, a relief official, said there would be no immediate respite for thousands of people in state-run relief camps.
Heavy rains forced state authorities to release excess water from dozens of dangerously full dams, sending a surge into its main river and causing floods downstream.
“Presently, 35 reservoirs in the state are releasing water. Many districts in the state are facing floods,” the state’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said on Twitter.
Another 12 deaths were reported on Thursday, putting the death toll since 8 August at 79, according to The Times of India.
Monsoon rains kill hundreds of people each year in India. The monsoon season runs from June to September.
Kerala is famous for its coastline and picturesque backwaters, and has become a major destination for Indian and international tourists.
The state last saw such devastating flooding in 1924.