Aid workers in India warn scale of flood damage still unclear

The people of the flood-battered Indian state of Kerala are “in a great struggle to rebuild their lives,” the state’s top official said Wednesday, as aid workers warned it could take days before the full scope of the destruction is clear.

Though rains have stopped over the past three days and floodwaters are receding, vast swaths of the tropical state — known for its idyllic villages and beautiful beaches — remain underwater or coated with mud, and many people have no drinking water or electricity.

“We know the humanitarian needs are enormous, but it will be some time before we know just how big that is,” Ray Kancharla, with the aid group Save The Children, said in a statement Tuesday. “Roofs and walls have collapsed; roads have been completely washed away.”

He estimated it could take “well over a week” before the effects of the devastation are clear.

India’s Border Security Force distributed food and water Tuesday to residents stuck in their homes because of the flooding in Kerala. (Atul Loke/Getty Images)

Torrential downpours began hammering Kerala on Aug. 8, more than two months into the annual monsoon season, setting off devastating floods that left more than 200 people dead and sent more than 800,000 fleeing for dry land.

“The people of Kerala are in a great struggle to rebuild their lives after the flood,” said the state’s chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, sending his greetings for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

“May this Eid be an inspiration for all of them,” he said on Twitter.

On the island of Kunjunnikkara, about 20 kilometres from Kochi, hundreds of Muslims undeterred by the flooding gathered Wednesday at a local mosque for Eid prayers. They also prayed at a nearby cemetery for those who had lost their lives in the floods.

Flooding in the southern India state of Kerala has displaced more than 800,000 people and killed more than 350. Officials say it’s the worst disaster in the region in a century. 2:55

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