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800,000 displaced in flooding in southern Indian state

800,000 displaced in flooding in southern Indian state

"They were the scariest hours of our life", Inderjeet Kumar, 20, told AFP at a church doubling as a relief shelter in the hard-hit Thrissur district. "When we stepped into the street, we were neck-deep in water".

Officials said the death toll in the state since the start of the monsoon on May 29 has reached 357.

In worst hit areas such as Thrissur and Chengannur, rescuers are searching inundated houses where they have found the bodies of those trapped by the fast rising floodwaters. Its red alert has been withdrawn, and only three states-Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Ernakulam-are on "orange alert" for Sunday.

Among the dead was a mother and son whose home collapsed around them late Saturday.

Another was a local man who volunteered for the search and rescue mission.

The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation has dispatched necessary medicines to the affected areas, which is in addition to more than 150 truck loads of relief materials from the civil society and NGOs.

A supply truck transporting boats to flooded areas moves through a water-logged road in Aluva in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 18, 2018.

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Kerala's chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state is facing an extremely grave crisis and the economic damage is likely to run into billions of dollars.

Kerala-born businessman Yusuff Ali MA, chairman and managing director of Lulu Group, has announced a ₹ 50 million donation for Kerala, Khaleej Times reported today. He put the death toll from floods and landslides since the start of the rainy season at 324. He called for solidarity and "the concrete assistance of the global community".

Many panic-stricken flood victims have resorted to appeals on social media, saying they can not get through to rescue services. An emotional appeal by the Chengannur MLA Saji Cherian, who during a TV interview claimed that several thousand would lose their lives in his constituency if the centre failed to provide timely aid to rescue those stranded for days amidst the flooding.

Mr. Vijayan, who was scheduled to have left for the USA on Sunday, chose not to go in view of the huge crisis that the State is faced with though the flood waters have receded and nearly all those who had got stranded in their homes, particularly in Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, have been moved to safer places.

Fishermen from across the State also pitched in with the rescue effort, putting over 100 boats to use in flood relief operations.

Torrential rains in Kerala triggered the state's worst flooding in almost a century, destroying thousands of homes and roads. Over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps, he said.

After the meetings with high officials and aerial survey of the flooded state, Modi on Saturday announced an additional grant of Rs.500 crore for Kerala.