New Delhi: Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Thursday asked the defence ministry to further step up relief and rescue operations across Kerala. He also spoke with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan again this morning.

“We discussed the flood situation in the state. Have asked Defence Ministry to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala," the Prime Minister tweeted.

On Wednesday, Modi had told Vijayan that the Centre stood firmly behind Kerala and was ready to provide any assistance. Rains in the state have claimed 47 lives, officials said, adding, a red alert had been sounded in 12 of the 14 districts.

The public transport system collapsed in many parts of central Kerala with the Southern Railways and Kochi Metro on Thursday suspending operations due to floods. Rise in flood waters in Periyar river due to continuous rains and opening of major dams, including Mullaperiyar, Cheruthoni, part of Idukki reservoir, Idamalayar, have severely hit the life of people in downstream areas. The floods have also affected the transport system to Kochi city.

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