India's flood-hit Kerala faces huge clean-up, fear of disease

80% of Animals Were Killed in Recent Kerala Floods, But Rescuers Are Determined to Help Any Survivors They Can

More than 200,000 people have been forced to take shelter in relief camps.

The overall death toll in the state since the start of the monsoon on May 29 had reached 370, the spokesman said.Forty-six of them were found dead in just the last 24 hours.In Thrissur, rescuers searching inundated houses discovered the bodies of those unable to escape as the floodwaters quickly rose. The severe floods swelled rivers and triggered landslides.

"The biggest challenges immediately ahead are cleaning the flood-hit houses, rehabilitation, and prevention of water-borne diseases", said Mahesh P., a village-level officer from Rayamangalam, some 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Kerala's financial capital of Kochi.

His body was retrieved by comrades early Sunday, said Dibin K.S, a Kerala firefighter, in a grim reminder of the perils facing rescuers.

"The flood has bonded the people like never before, with people sharing whatever they had".

More than 800,000 people have been displaced in Kerala, as the death toll from the worst flooding to hit the southern Indian state jumped to at least 370, with losses to infrastructure pegged at nearly $3 billion.

A deluge in India's flood-stricken south- western state of Kerala finally let up yesterday, giving some respite for thousands of marooned families, while authorities feared an outbreak of disease among twomillion people crammed into relief camps.

As a helicopter hovered overhead, doctors checked elderly men and women lying on wooden benches in an engineering college.

Flood waters also began to recede from several places.

Many have made a decision to say no to new clothes, biriyani or candies, while some are sending nutritious food to flood victims instead of offering sacrifice at their homes.

Kochi's airport has suspended operations until Sunday due to waterlogging.

To assist passengers, India's aviation regulator asked domestic airlines to cap maximum fares to and from Kerala and nearby airports.

The military has led rescue efforts to reach people in communities cut off for days by the floods, with many trapped on rooftops and the upper floors of their homes, and in desperate need of food and potable water.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the priority now was to provide clean drinking water and restore power supplies to the state of 33 million people. But without a yardstick for such a declaration, it could be an uphill task. "The central government and public have cooperated well in this effort to fight this disaster".

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