Over 160 die in rain-related incidents in India's Kerala

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More than 160 people are now confirmed dead in floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains in India's Kerala, in what is said to be the southern state's worst monsoon in almost a century.

The death toll in rain-related incidents since Aug. 8 in the state now stands at 164, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media Friday. "The situation is serious, but we will overcome it," he added.

Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Air Force have pushed in more forces in the state, apart from the already stationed troops and personnel of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF).

"Some 16 Army teams, 28 Navy teams, 39 NDRF teams are involved in the relief and rescue operations. The NDRF has so far rescued 4,000 people. And by this evening, all marooned people will be saved," the Chief Minister said.

Apart from the casualties, over 200,000 people have been displaced, and more than 10,000 km of roads and hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged across the state.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he spoke to the Kerala Chief Minister Friday morning and would visit the state later in the evening to take a first-hand look at the grim situation due to floods.

Among the worst hit districts are Idukki, Wayanad, Pallakad, Malappuram, Kochi and state capital Thirvananthapuram.

In a fresh statement, authorities have said that the Kochi airport, one of the busiest in southern India, will remain shut till Aug. 26.

"Kochi Airport operations are temporarily suspended up to 2 p.m. (local time) on Aug. 26 due to very high flood situation and key essential facilities like runway, taxiway and apron are under submerged condition," an airport statement said.

The weather department has predicted more rains in the next one week and sounded a fresh alert. People living on river banks in the rain-hit districts have been asked to relocate, while fishermen urged not to venture into the Arabian Sea.

Officials said that several dams, particularly the Idukki dam, the biggest arch dam in Asia, have been opened to release excess water. All the shutters of the Idukki dam were opened last week for the first time after a gap of 26 years.

The state's Chief Minister had last week announced a compensation of 400,000 rupees (5,600 U.S. dollars) to families of those killed in floods and rainslides who lost their loved ones, and up to 1 million rupees for those who have lost both their land as well as house.

The state is witnessing its worst monsoon rains since 1924.

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