Death toll from India’s monsoon floods climbs to 213

Severe monsoon flooding has killed 213 people in western India, an official said Sunday, as rescuers continue to sift through villages devastated by torrential rains.

The death toll in Gujarat state jumped from Wednesday’s total of 123 as waters recede from low-lying areas, allowing workers to reach remote spots where bodies are starting to appear.

“The death toll in Gujarat this monsoon has risen to 213,” A.J Shah, director of relief operations with the Gujarat government, told AFP.

Overwhelmed authorities, who expect the toll to rise still further, said they have struggled to cope with the number of bodies needing identification and post-mortems, resulting in delays in confirming the latest deaths.

An official at the state’s emergency control room explained that “only after a post-mortem is conducted we can officially confirm death of a person”.

“Since many bodies were found, postmortem took time hence the sudden jump in numbers,” the official, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

The rise comes after rescuers plucked 25 bodies, including 17 members of a single family, on Wednesday from two submerged villages in hard-hit Banaskantha district of Gujarat.

Rescue workers have moved close to 130,000 people from low-lying, dangerous areas as helicopters and boats try to reach those still stranded.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who surveyed the devastation across Gujarat from the skies last week, in his radio show on Sunday reassured flood-hit states that all help was being provided to them.

As well as Gujarat, the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have been hard-hit by monsoon flooding, while pockets of the eastern states of Odisha and Bihar have also been affected.

In Assam at least 77 people have been killed and a state-wide emergency relief operation has been underway since April. Tens of thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed.

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