A bicycle is hung from a tree branch to avoid being washed away in flood waters as a man rows with his dog in a country boat at Kuttanad in Alappuzha in the southern state of Kerala, India, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. Kerala has been battered by torrential downpours since Aug. 8, with floods and landslides killing at least 250 people. About 800,000 people now living in some 4,000 relief camps. (AP Photo/Tibin Augustine)

Indian military scales down flood rescue operations

August 21, 2018 - 2:14 am

KOCHIN, India (AP) — The Indian military is scaling down rescue operations in the southern state of Kerala, where intense floods killed more than 200 people and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Decreasing rains and floodwaters means the navy can cut back on its rescue teams in Kerala, navy spokesman Capt. D.K. Sharma said in a Monday statement. The navy has rescued a total of nearly 16,000 people in the state.

People have begun leaving Kerala's thousands of relief camps over the past couple days, heading to their homes to check on damage and begin the long process of cleaning up.

Intense rains, which began Aug. 8 in Kerala, had decreased substantially by Monday. Meteorologists are expecting light-to-moderate rains in coming days.

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

Just outside of Kochi, thousands of people have been streaming over the past two days from the grounds of Union Christian College, one of more than 3,000 relief camps created amid the havoc.

A week ago, volunteers at the camp estimated 10,000 people were jammed into the schools' buildings. Today, there are perhaps 1,500.

Abdullah Aliyar has been living in the camp with four of his relatives. On Monday, he returned briefly to his home, which is a few miles (kilometers away). He was dismayed by what he found: "There was sludge and muck nearly up to my knee."

But for now the family is remaining at the college. There's no drinking water at home, and no electricity. He doesn't know when they'll be able to return.

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