At least five killed in severe flash flooding in India's state of Kerala

12 people missing as army and air force personnel join the rescue effort

At least five people have been killed and 12 others are missing in India's southern Kerala state, after heavy rains battered the region, triggering landslides and flash floods.

The coastal state has been witnessing extreme rainfall since Friday night due to a low pressure front that formed over the Arabian Sea.

Three people were killed after their houses washed away in Kottayam district, while two drowned in Idukki district, Kerala state disaster management officials said.

Another 12 people were missing across different districts of Kerala, said officials, as emergency workers continued rescue efforts.

The downpours have created treacherous conditions. A video posted online appearing to show passengers barely able to exit a bus that was almost submerged.

State authorities have sought the assistance of the Indian Air Force to carry out rescue operations where landslides have left residents cut off.

“We started receiving heavy rain last night that continued today and have experienced four landslides throughout the state,” Nikhil S, a hazard analyst with Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, told The National.

“We have confirmed three deaths and 12 missing people and two deaths due to drowning.”

Kerala has received 315 millimetres of rain in the past 24 hours, causing the Meenachil and Manimala rivers to burst their banks in the hilly region and triggering landslides.

The India Meteorological Department has forecast extremely heavy rainfall in the state until Sunday morning.

It has issued a red alert in five districts and an orange alert in seven.

Several roads were swept away by the floods, and people in low-lying areas along river banks were moved to safer places on Saturday.

Two children had a lucky escape after a portion of the wall of their house collapsed while they were asleep in state capital Thiruvananthapuram on Friday night. They had only minor injuries.

“Two houses have been fully damaged and 113 partially damaged,” Mr Nikhil S said.

“We have opened 36 relief camps throughout the state occupied by 850 people.

"We have six teams from the NDRF [National Disaster Response Force] and five more are on the way. Two teams from the army are also deployed.”

Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Facebook post that his government was setting up relief and medical camps to help those trapped.

“The current situation is where rain is getting heavier and wreaking destruction in many places of Kerala. Rescue operations will be strengthened in all areas where heavy rains continue,” Mr Vijayan wrote.

Heavy rain is common in the state during monsoon season but the severity of rainfall has increased in recent years.

In 2018, widespread floods marooned large parts of the state and left nearly 500 people dead.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 10:50 AM