Turkey sends condolences as southern India’s flood death toll rises to 67

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Fire and Rescue personnel evacuate local residents in an inflatable boat from a flooded area at Muppathadam near Eloor in Kochi's Ernakulam district, in the Indian state of Kerala on Aug. 15, 2018. (AFP Photo)
Fire and Rescue personnel evacuate local residents in an inflatable boat from a flooded area at Muppathadam near Eloor in Kochi's Ernakulam district, in the Indian state of Kerala on Aug. 15, 2018. (AFP Photo)

The flood toll in India's southern tourist hot spot of Kerala jumped to 67 after another 25 deaths were reported Wednesday, with more than 50,000 people seeking shelter in relief camps, a state official told AFP.

Kerala, famed for its pristine palm-lined beaches and tea plantations, is battered by the monsoon every year but the rains have been particularly severe this season, flooding hundreds of villages and prompting the authorities to suspend flights in and out of the region.

"Twenty-five deaths were confirmed earlier in the evening. The situation is bad in many parts of the state and the number (of deaths) will likely increase," a senior official from the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority told AFP.

Unconfirmed local media reports mentioned a much higher toll and cited ongoing efforts to reach many flooded areas.

The official added that authorities had issued a "red alert" warning in all 14 districts of the flood-ravaged state, with heavy downpours expected over the next 24 hours in many of the worst affected areas.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office announced on Twitter that Kochi International Airport -- the main gateway to the region -- would be closed until Saturday "due to heavy rains and resultant flooding."

Vijayan held emergency meetings with rescue officials in the state late Wednesday and discussed the situation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The chief minister has requested the deployment of additional personnel from the Indian army, navy and other emergency forces who are already working across the state, which is home to around 33 million people.

"Our state is in the midst of an unprecedented flood havoc," Vijayan said earlier this week. "The calamity has caused immeasurable misery and devastation."

Authorities have opened the gates of 34 reservoirs as water reached dangerous levels.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday offered condolences to the families of those killed in the floods.

"We learned with sorrow that monsoon-related floods in India caused the loss of many lives and injuries," the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

"We extend our sincere condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives and to the people and Government of India and wish speedy recovery to the injured," read the statement.

India's monsoon season, which lasts from June and September, brings heavy rains that are vital for agriculture but also kill hundreds of people each year and can cause immense destruction.

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