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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Flood toll in India's Kerala rises to 445

Around a million people are still packed into temporary relief camps

Flood victims wait in line to pick up tea and snacks at a relief camp in Alappuzha, Kerala, India, on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. Bloomberg.
Flood victims wait in line to pick up tea and snacks at a relief camp in Alappuzha, Kerala, India, on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. Bloomberg.

The death toll from devastating floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala rose to 445 Sunday with the discovery of 28 more bodies as the waters recede and a massive cleanup gathers pace, government officials said.

Around a million people are still packed into temporary relief camps and 15 are reported missing even as the government mounts an operation to clean homes and public places that have been filled with dirt and sand left by the floods.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a tweet said that more than 130,000 flood-hit houses had been cleaned, or nearly a third of those affected.

Authorities are also in the process of restoring electricity connections.

People returning to their homes have been told to stay alert as receding waters leave behind a glut of snakes. State authorities and wildlife experts have formed teams to come to the aid of those who have found snakes in their home, according to local media.

With death toll rising daily, Kerala authorities said "due process will be followed to ascertain if all these deaths are flood related".

A 68-year-old man committed suicide Wednesday after seeing the state of his home at Kothad in Ernakulam district. A 19-year-old boy took his own life earlier in the week because his school certificates were destroyed by the floods, police said.

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The government says that more than 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of roads have been destroyed or damaged while a legislator said 50,000 houses had been wiped out.

On Friday, the government warned about a potential spate of snake attacks as receding waters leave behind a glut of the venomous reptiles.

"Snakes are spotted at many flood-hit homes and alerts have been issued to exercise caution when returning home," Kerala government spokesman Subhash T.V told AFP on Friday.

"Hospitals too have been equipped to face the situation. Instructions have been given to arrange facilities to treat snakebite victims.

"Anti-venom and other necessary medicines are stored at all hospitals, especially those in flood-hit areas," he added.