At least 21 people have been killed and more than a dozen others missing in flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy post-monsoon showers in the southern Indian state of Kerala, officials said Sunday.
The deaths occurred mostly in Kottayam and Idukki districts, where several houses were swept away following flooding and landslides Saturday, rendering hundreds of people homeless.
Indian armed forces have been carrying out rescue operations alongside the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the local police, since Saturday afternoon.
"So far, 21 bodies have been recovered from under the debris but over a dozen people are still missing. Though the showers have subsided, bad weather is hampering rescue operations in some areas," a senior state government official told the local media.
Kerala's Chief Minister Pinayari Vijayan held a high-level meeting on Saturday itself and asked officials of the two districts to ensure that all the displaced people were shifted to makeshift camps.
"Masks, sanitisers, drinking water, medicines should be made available in camps," local media quoted the Chief Minister as telling the officials.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
took to social media to condole the deaths. "It is saddening that some people have lost their lives due to heavy rains and landslides in Kerala. Condolences to the bereaved families," he tweeted Sunday.
The country's main opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is a lawmaker from the state of Kerala, also tweeted his condolences to the families of those killed in the deluge.
"My thoughts are with the people of Kerala. Please stay safe and follow all safety precautions," Gandhi tweeted.
Kerala and the western Indian state of Maharashtra witnessed the heaviest monsoon rains this year. In Maharashtra, over 100 people died in landslides in July.
Three years ago, in August 2018, over 400 people died in Kerala in what was touted as the state's worst flooding in a century.