Bodies found as floods recede in India’s Kerala

Rescuers plead for help as thousands stranded in flooded Kerala

Flood-affected people wait to receive food inside a college auditorium, which has been converted into a temporary relief camp, in Kochi, Kerala, August 20, 2018.

Vijayan praised the fishermen for joining the rescue mission. Rescuers fear the death toll will rise as they reach areas nearly entirely underwater.Thousands remain trapped - often without food or water - in towns and villages cut off by the floods, and heavy rain forecast in coming days threatens to compound the disaster. So far 22,000 people have been rescued and thirteen fresh deaths were reported on Sunday.

Thousands of army, navy and air force personnel have been deployed to help those stranded in remote and hilly areas.

More than 400 people have died since the monsoon started in May. Dozens of helicopters have been dropping tonnes of food, medicine and water over areas cut off due to damaged roads and bridges.

Kerala faces no shortage of food, as traders have stocked up ahead of the Hindu harvest festival of Onam on Saturday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

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Kerala has been lashed by torrential monsoon rains since the end of May, triggering landslides and flash floods that have swept away entire villages.

"Our solidarity and the concrete support of the global community should not lack for our brothers", said Pope Francis on Sunday.

Fishermen have sailed inland from Kerala's coast to join the search, as volunteers set up soup kitchens and an global appeal was made for financial help.

In Mala, desperate villagers had to improvise as the floodwaters rose, using kitchen pots as rafts to reach their stricken neighbours.

"The flood has bonded the people like never before, sharing whatever they had".

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Anil Vasudevan, who handles disaster management at the Kerala health department, said authorities had isolated three people with chickenpox in one of the relief camps in Aluva town, almost 250km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

But dam levels remain dangerously high, swollen by monsoon deluges, and more rain is forecast.

J.P. Nadda, the country's health minister, said more than 3,500 medical camps were set up across a region roughly the size of Switzerland, where rains since August 8 have swelled rivers and triggered landslides.

Light to moderate rain was expected on Monday across Kerala.

The floods have caused an estimated $3 billion in damage but the bill is likely to rise as the scale of devastation becomes clearer. Two women were rescued in the operation which was carried out on Friday.

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