Indian states on alert amid heavy rain and flooding in north and south

The Ganges river is swollen to dangerous levels, authorities say

Floodwaters surround houses on the banks of the river Ganges, after heavy monsoon rains in Prayagraj, India, on Sunday.  AP
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Heavy rains continued to batter parts of India's southern Kerala state on Wednesday, causing a surge in water levels across rivers as authorities released excess water from dams to avoid flooding.

The coastal state has been pounded by the rains since the beginning of week and forecasters have predicted more rain and thunderstorms across Kerala until the weekend because of what meteorologists call “cyclonic circulation” in neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Telangana states.

More than a dozen train services were partially cancelled or diverted while schools and colleges were closed in flood-affected areas.

Authorities opened the shutters of the Malampuzha Dam in Palakkad district to discharge excess water from the reservoir.

Experts at the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority said that there was an orange alert — which denotes a warning for heavy rainfall of up to 20 centimetres — in eight districts but the situation was improving as water was receding in some areas.

“We received moderate rainfall this morning and last night and are expecting rains this evening. We have deployed seven teams of state forces, police, civil and volunteers,” Amrita, a hazard analyst with the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, who goes by one name, told The National.

“Wayanad and Idukki are the most vulnerable districts prone to landslides, but we are prepared for any situation,” she said.

Five members of a family died in a landslide in Idukki district, a densely forested and mountainous region, on Monday.

Rains also wreaked havoc in parts of neighbouring Karnataka with its capital Bengaluru inundated with flood waters from overflowing rivers and lakes on Tuesday.

Commuters were left stranded on the roads for hours due to waterlogging that caused huge traffic snarls.

More than 100 homes in the south-eastern part of the city were flooded and rescue workers used rafts to evacuate those stranded in residential areas.

“It rained very heavily and the thunderstorm was so strong that I could feel the vibrations. The area outside my office was flooded. It took three hours for people to navigate through floodwater and reach their homes,” said Ritam Sarkar, a Bengaluru resident.

The state government has estimated a loss of more than 76 billion rupees (almost $1 billion) due to rain-related incidents since June this year.

Monsoon rains have also wreaked havoc in northern India, with parts of Uttar Pradesh witnessing heavy rainfall and risk of flooding as the Ganges and Yamuna rivers were close to breaching their banks.

One person died in floods and more than 240,000 people across 22 districts were affected in Uttar Pradesh, the government said on Tuesday.

Authorities have sent two dozen teams of the National Disaster Response Force and state disaster response forces to the affected areas.

Officers are distributing food packets, medical kits and other essentials.

Monsoon rains have been battering parts of the Indian subcontinent with more than 1,100 people having died in India this year due to flooding and landslides, the government said in a statement last month.

Over 1,100 people, including 380 children, have also been killed in Pakistan in one of the worst floods in the country since June.

More than 1,300 people have been injured in the calamity that has affected 33 million people — one-seventh of the country's population, in 116 districts.

Updated: August 31, 2022, 5:26 PM