By Agence France-Presse
Rescuers waded into submerged villages in southern India on Sunday in a desperate search for survivors cut off for days by floods that have already killed more than 350 people.
Entire villages in Kerala have been swept away in the state's worst floods in a century (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Entire villages in Kerala have been swept away in the state's worst floods in a century, and emergency responders fear the death toll will rise as they reach areas almost entirely underwater.
In Thrissur, one of the worst-hit districts, rescuers sifting through inundated houses have discovered the bodies of those unable to escape as the floodwaters quickly rose.
"They didn't think that it would rise this high -- 10 to 15 feet at some places -- when the initial warnings were issued," said Ashraf Ali K.M, who is leading the search in the small town of Mala.
"Some of them later gave distress calls when the water rose high and fast," he told AFP at the scene, where dead cattle and other livestock floated past.
Thousands of army, navy and air force troops have fanned out across Kerala to assist as distress calls sound out across the idyllic tourist hotspot.
The death toll stands at 357, local officials said, with 33 killed in just the last 24 hours.
Among the dead was a mother and son in Mala, whose home collapsed around them late Saturday.
Another was a local man who volunteered for the search and rescue mission.
His body was retrieved by comrades early Sunday, said Dibin K.S, a Kerala firefighter, in a grim reminder of the perils facing rescuers.
Officials say many houses are irreparably damaged across the state, and have warned residents against trying to return to them.