NEW DELHI: India issued Wednesday a fresh flood alert for parts of Kerala, as the nationwide death toll from the annual monsoon deluge rose to at least 209.
Authorities warned Kerala locals of heavy to extremely heavy rainfall over the next 24-48 hours in some of the worst affected regions of the state popular with tourists.
Heavy rains in parts of four Indian states — Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat — have forced more than 1.2 million people to leave their homes, mostly for government-run relief camps.
Kerala was hit by its worst floods in almost a century last year, and is still recovering from the extensive loss of life and damage to public infrastructure including highways, railways and roads.
Around 450 people lost their lives in Kerala in 2018.
The death toll this monsoon season in the state increased to 95 overnight and at least 59 people were missing, Kerala police told AFP on Wednesday.
At least 48 people have also lost their lives in neighbouring Karnataka state, where authorities have also rescued around 677,000 people from flooded regions.
Local media have also reported 66 deaths in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, with hundreds of thousands rescued from inundated regions.
India has also deployed the army, navy and air force to work with the local emergency personnel for search, rescue and relief operations in the flooded regions.
The monsoon rains are crucial to replenishing water supplies in drought-stricken India, but they kill hundreds of people across the country every year.
With several parts of Kerala receiving downpour since Tuesday night, many low lying areas have been waterlogged. A red alert has been sounded for three north Kerala districts of Malappuram, Kannur and Kozhikode, which bore the brunt of the flood fury and landslides last week.
Pathanamthitta, a central Kerala district which has been receiving very heavy rains since last night is put on high vigil, authorities said Wednesday.
Met authorities forecast heavy to very heavy downfalls at isolated places in Kerala.
As squally weather is likely to prevail over the state, fishermen have been advised not to put out to sea, they said.
In nearby Vizhinjam, a fisherman drowned and three others were rescued when their fishing craft capsized.
Taking into account the heavy rain forecast, educational institutions in 11 districts have declared holiday on Wednesday.