Many residents forego Onam festival in flood-hit Kerala
August 25 2018 06:42 PM
Kerala floods
A flooded area is seen in Kerala early this week. Kerala has had two rounds of floods this season.

dpa/New Delhi

Many residents of India's Kerala state did not celebrate Onam, the traditional harvest festival, on Saturday as a string of people returned home from relief camps and 28 more bodies were found, taking the death toll in devastating floods to 265.
"Many of these houses are covered in mud, there is muck, snakes, people are going to clean them up from the camps and returning at night," Kerala Chief Secretary Tom Jose said.
Jose said as of Saturday there were an estimated 597,000 people in the temporary relief camps, but the number kept changing.
"It will take many days to clean up and then more time to repair their homes. At least 10,000 houses are completely destroyed," Jose said.
More than 100,000 homes, about a third of those affected by the devastating floods, have been cleaned up so far and electricity has been restored in some areas, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Twitter.
In an appeal for charitable contributions, the government said 26,750 buckets and mops, 20,000 pairs of gumboots and 40,000 volunteers were needed to speed up cleaning operations in each of the six badly-affected administrative districts.
India's monsoon season that runs from June to September is a lifeline for farmers but often causes death and destruction.
Kerala saw two rounds of floods this season, with the second round leaving 265 people dead since August 8.
Roads, bridges and other infrastructure, crops and homes were damaged and destroyed with the government estimating around $3bn would be needed for reconstruction and rehabilitation.
"Let's celebrate this #Onam by bringing help to those among us who are suffering. More than a million of our people are in relief camps. We have together survived the worst disaster in our State's history. Let us also set an example in rebuilding efforts," Vijayan said.
"The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with Kerala and prays for the happiness as well as prosperity of its citizens," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a message marking Onam.
Onam, an annual Hindu harvest festival, traditionally includes feasts, new clothes, as well as light and flower arrangements. 

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