Kerala toll reaches 91, massive rescue operation underway

Heavy monsoon rains kill 44 people in southern India, close airport

Footage shows the perilous journeys taken during unprecedented floods in Kerala which have left dozens dead

256 people have been killed and lakhs have been displaced ever since the monsoons set in in the state on May 29.

The airport in the port city of Kochi will stay shut until Saturday afternoon.

Muscat: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has set up an account to collect funds for relief efforts as the South Indian state reels from heavy flooding and rains. 53,500 people are now living in camps, and 7,500 families have been evacuated from Ernakulam alone.

"By noon, 10 helicopters will join the existing fleet of 10 already involved in the massive rescue operation in our state".

"Residents in Alwaye, Chalakudy and parts of Ernakulam should listen to the people engaged in rescue operations as things can get worse during the day as the Periyar river is going to carry more water".

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"At least 6,500 people are stranded in different parts of Kerala and the situation in three districts is particularly grim", a separate state disaster management official told AFP.

The ongoing flood situation led the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation to cancel 8,415 tickets.

In Kerala families could be seen paddling boats provided by the military, while in some areas families commandeered local wooden boats to ferry themselves to safety.

The five latest fatalities from the rain that began a week ago came when authorities in the southern state were forced to release water from 35 dangerously full dams.

Many used social media to send rooftop distress calls, some with video.

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The rain and floods have destroyed and damaged hundreds of houses in the past week and caused significant losses to crops in the state known for its spices and coffee.

A member of parliament from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, shared on Twitter an appeal for help made by a woman who said she was trapped on the third floor of a temple with phone batteries running out. All the stranded people will be saved by this evening.

North and central Kerala has been worst hit by the floods but all 14 of the state's districts have been put on "red alert" as heavy rain is predicted for several days.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give additional relief to flood-ravaged Kerala.

Promoth Manghat, Executive Director, Finablr and Group CEO, said, "As a committed corporate citizen, who firmly believes in helping communities in times of need, it was our responsibility to do all that is in our power to aid the people of Kerala, who are facing this unprecedented natural calamity".

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