New Delhi: Battered by torrential rains, Kerala is witnessing the worst floods in a century. As many as 400 people have died even as vast tracts of land have been swept away. Mint takes a look at how the tragedy has taken its toll on the state.

What caused the floods in Kerala?

Kerala has received 2,377 mm of rainfall this monsoon season, against the normal of 1,676 mm—an excess of 42%. The second spell of monsoon fury since 8 August worsened the situation, as heavy rains for days compelled the administration to open the shutters of the dams, which led to flooding, leaving low-lying areas submerged. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said Idukki and Palakkad districts have recorded excess rains of 93% and 73%, respectively. The state government has declared the disaster one of the worst crises in decades.

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What has been the extent of the damage?

At least 400 people have died, of which 200 deaths were in the last 10 days. Rescue operations are on and officials fear the toll could rise, as several remote areas are inundated and connectivity has been cut off. Thousands remain trapped in their houses, amid shortage of food and water. At least 724,000 people have been rendered homeless and have taken shelter in 5,645 relief camps. Roads and at least 134 bridges in the state have been damaged. The initial damage is estimated at $3 billion.

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How many districts have been affected?

Of the total 14 districts, 11 have recorded excess rains. Idukki, Palakkad and Alappuzha are among the worst-affected. At least 43 people died in Idukki.

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How did the opening of the dams worsen the situation?

There are 62 large dams, in which water levels remain dangerously high. Heavy rains compelled the authorities to open the floodgates of all dams. People have been evacuated from submerged areas near the dams. All five shutters of Asia’s largest arch dam in Idukki were opened for the first time. It discharged 750,000 litres of water per second, sweeping away vast tracts of land.

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What’s the update on rescue operations?

Thousands of Army, Navy and Air Force troops, along with teams of the National Disaster Relief Force and the Coast Guard, are working round the clock to evacuate people. The centre sanctioned 100 crore as immediate assistance to the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a further assistance of 500 crore after conducting an aerial survey on 18 August.

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