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|India's Kerala state has been hit by torrential monsoon rains since the end of May, triggering landslides and flash floods that have swept away entire villages AFP|
The idyllic tourist hotspot has been badgered by torrential monsoon rains since the end of May, triggering landslides and flash floods that have swept away entire villages.
"Since May 29, when the monsoon starts in Kerala, a total of 357 people have lost their lives until now," a statement from the state's information officer said, with 33 losing their lives over the last 24 hours.
Some 353,000 people have taken shelter in 3,026 relief camps as thousands of army, navy and air force troops fan out to help those still stranded.
Roads and 134 bridges have suffered damage, isolating remote areas in the hilly districts of the state which are worst affected.
Panic-stricken people have been making appeals on social media for help, saying they cannot get through to rescue services.
"According to preliminary estimates Kerala's losses due to the floods is 19,512 crore rupees (US$2.9 billion). Actual losses can be estimated only after the water recedes," the statement said.
The state chief minister has requested more funding as well as 20 more helicopters and 600 motorised boats in order to step up the rescue efforts.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted a brief air inspection tour of the state Saturday and announced an immediate grant of US$75 million.