NEW DELHI - Thousands of stranded people were waiting for rescue Saturday as relentless monsoon floods batter the south Indian state of Kerala, where more than 170 have died in a little more than a week and much of the state is at least partially submerged.
More than 300,000 people have taken shelter in more than 1,500 state-run relief camps, officials said. But authorities and local media outlets said they were being inundated with calls for assistance.
“We are receiving multiple repetitive rescue requests,” the office of the state’s top official, Pinarayi Vijayan, said in a Friday tweet, asking those in need to provide their exact location, landmarks and the number of stranded people when they call for help.
Heavy rains since Aug. 8 have triggered floods and landslides and caused homes and bridges to collapse across Kerala, a famously picturesque state known for its quiet tropical backwaters and beautiful beaches. Many roads and railways have been shut, and one of the state’s major airports, in the city of Kochi, has also closed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Saturday with the state’s top officials, promising more than $70 million in aid. While the central government has dispatched multiple military units to Kerala, state officials are pleading for additional help.
“Please ask Modi to give us helicopters, give us helicopters. Please, please!” state legislator Saji Cherian said on a Kerala-based TV news channel, the Indian Express newspaper reported.
More than 300 people have died in Kerala since the monsoon started in June, including more than 170 since torrential rains began in August.
More than 1,000 people have lost their lives in seven Indian states since the start of the monsoon season.