The death toll from devastating floods in the southern Indian state of Kerala rose to 445 on 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 — or nearly a third of those affected — had been cleaned.
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 the death toll rising daily, Kerala authorities said that “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.
The government said that more than 10,000 kilometers of roads have been destroyed or damaged, while a legislator said 50,000 houses had been wiped out.