Kochi: More than half of the 14 districts in Kerala have been put on high alert, officials said on Saturday, as the death toll from one of the worst floods in the southern state reached 34.

Torrential rains and landslides during India’s June-September mansoon season have ravaged farmlands and prompted massive evacuation efforts in Kerala state.

Rescue operations being carried out following a landslide, triggered by heavy rains at Adimali, in Idukki, Kerala on Thursday. Photo: PTI
Rescue operations being carried out following a landslide, triggered by heavy rains at Adimali, in Idukki, Kerala on Thursday. Photo: PTI

Crops on 1,031 hectares (2547.66 acres) have been damaged and 31,000 people have been forced to take shelter in rescue camps, according to the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority’s (KSDMA) control room in the state capital.

A senior official there said eight districts had been put on varying levels of high alert.

Another government official previously told Reuters that crop worth 342 crore ($49.65 million), across 26,824 hectares had been destroyed by rains since their onset on 29 May.

Aluva Mahadeva Temple is seen submerged in the water following a flash flood, triggered by heavy rains, at Kochi in Kerala on 9 August 2018. Photo: PTI
Aluva Mahadeva Temple is seen submerged in the water following a flash flood, triggered by heavy rains, at Kochi in Kerala on 9 August 2018. Photo: PTI

P.H. Kurian, KSDMA’s chief and a top state bureaucrat, said rains had eased.

“There was no rain in the catchment areas of major reservoirs today," Kurian said. “However, we will continue our alert and preparedness till August 15."

Kerala state authorities have taken the unprecedented step of opening the gates of 25 water reservoirs to prevent potentially disastrous breaches.

A view of the Idukki Dam as water level continued to rise in the reservoir in Iduki dam area of Kerala on 10 August 2018. A red alert was issued for Idukki and its adjoining districts in view of the possibility of release of more water from the Idukki reservoir. Photo: PTI
A view of the Idukki Dam as water level continued to rise in the reservoir in Iduki dam area of Kerala on 10 August 2018. A red alert was issued for Idukki and its adjoining districts in view of the possibility of release of more water from the Idukki reservoir. Photo: PTI

Federal home minister Rajnath Singh was expected to travel to the state on Sunday to take a stock of the relief and rescue operations, Kurian added.

The state, which has 44 rivers, witnessed its worst floods in 1924 following torrential rains.

Residents look at houses destroyed by flood waters at Kannappankundu in Kozhikode, in Kerala on 10 August 2018. Photo: AFP
Residents look at houses destroyed by flood waters at Kannappankundu in Kozhikode, in Kerala on 10 August 2018. Photo: AFP

The weather department forecast heavy rains until 15 August, India’s Independence Day, also warning of flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the Arabian sea.

Despite the rains, tens of hundreds of Hindus across the state gathered on the banks of rivers and roads to perform a ritual in honour of their ancestors.

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