Rescue operations scaled down as flood waters recede in Kerala

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The Indian military is scaling down rescue operations in the flood-ravaged southern state of Kerala.

Intense floods have killed more than 200 people in the tourist haven and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Decreasing rains and floodwaters means the navy can cut back on its rescue teams in Kerala, navy spokesman Captain D.K. Sharma said in a statement.

The navy has rescued nearly 16,000 people in the state.

India Monsoon Flooding
A bicycle is hung from a tree branch to avoid being washed away (Tibin Augustine/AP)

The rains have decreased substantially and meteorologists are expecting light-to-moderate rains in coming days.

Thousands of people have been leaving Kerala’s relief camps over the past two days, heading home to check on damage and begin the long process of cleaning up.

“There was sludge and muck nearly up to my knee,” a dismayed Abdullah Aliyar said.

The 65-year-old, who has been living with his family at a relief camp for more than a week, returned briefly to his nearby home Monday to find it uninhabitable and without drinking water or electricity.

India Monsoon Flooding
Women line up for food being distributed at a relief camp (Aijaz Rahi/AP)

It is one of more than 3,000 relief camps created amid the havoc of the floods.

Volunteers at the camp estimate that up to 10,000 people were jammed into the schools’ buildings a week ago.

Today, there are perhaps 1,500.

“People are going home, or to their relatives’ homes,” said K.H. Shahabas, a local elected official who has been working in the camp since it was created.

India Monsoon Flooding
A church is seen partially covered in flood waters in Alappuzha (Aijaz Rahi/AP)

While water and electricity have returned to parts of Kerala, the state’s utilities were working to restore service to vast areas that still have no service, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

“In many areas the condition has improved wherein people can somehow return to their houses,” Kerala’s top elected official, Pinarayi Vijayan, said.

“Water is receding in many places, but in some places it may take a little more time.”

Mr Vijayan said 223 people had died in Kerala since August 8.

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