India: Death toll from Kerala floods hits 164

By Ahmad Adil

NEW DELHI (AA) – With the death toll in the southern Indian state of Kerala reaching 164 on Friday due to devastating floods and landslides triggered by monsoon rains, helicopters will be deployed across the state for rescue operations, officials announced on Friday.

The Defense Ministry’s air force wing is currently doing rooftop rescues in the state, along with other branches, besides the National Disaster Response Force and other teams.

The ministry said that more than 3,000 people have been rescued by the armed forces since the start of operations.

Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala’s chief minister, told the media on Friday that all those “marooned people will be saved by this evening,” describing the situation as "serious."

Kerala's state emergency operation center said it was receiving a large number of calls from various people stranded at different areas.

The office of Kerala’s chief minister also said that they are receiving multiple rescue requests and that 13 out of 14 districts are under red alert.

“The Meteorological Department warns that heavy rains may affect these 13 districts. Everyone please be cautious,” it said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday morning he will visit Kerala later in the day.

“Had a telephone conversation with Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan just now. We discussed the flood situation across the state and reviewed rescue operations. I will be heading to Kerala to take stock of the unfortunate situation due to flooding,” Modi said on Twitter.

The state has already announced the temporary closure of its Kochi International Airport till Aug. 26 due to floodwater-inundated parts of the airport.