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Indian health authorities prepared defenses against the spread of disease in flood-hit Kerala state on Monday as water receded and a huge clean-up gathered pace after the worst floods in a century killed more than 200 people.

His body was retrieved by comrades early Sunday, said Dibin K.S, a Kerala firefighter, in a grim reminder of the perils facing rescuers.

Meanwhile, the discharge from the Idukki, Idamalayar, Peringalkuthu and Sabarigir dams have been reduced, and the state government withdrew the red alert for the districts of Ernakulam and Idukki.

With rains decreasing, the water has started receding in parts of Kerala but thousands of people remain cut off and in need of help.

Officials said 22,000 people were rescued on Sunday.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said there was no shortage of food in the state as traders had stocked up ahead of Onam, the state's biggest festival which falls on August 25. Around 357 people have died in Kerala floods.

He said the department was preparing to deal with a possible outbreak of water-borne and air-borne diseases in the camps.

Late on Saturday, the chief minister had said that there was no shortage of food in the state as traders had stocked up before a local festival.

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The death toll rose on Monday to almost 400 in Kerala, reeling under its worst flood in a century, as authorities handed out medicine and disinfectants to ward off disease in thousands of relief camps.

Rainfall over Kerala during the South West Monsoon (June 1 to Aug 19) has been exceptionally high.

The army said Sunday that 250 people were evacuated from Pathanamthitta district, many of them sick after days in the pounding monsoon rain.

An Indian navy team built a temporary rope bridge across a stream in Thrissur on Sunday to rescue 100 people who had been stranded for days. The gesture was made in order to thank a rescue op carried out by a Navy Advanced Light Helicopter which was reportedly piloted by Cdr Vijay Varma.

Vijayan, the chief minister, has requested extra funding as well as 20 more helicopters and 600 motorised boats to step up the rescue efforts.

Train services between Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam are gradually becoming normalised, news agency PTI reported.

Indian officials say a military airport has opened to commercial flights in the flood-savaged southern state of Kerala to help speed in relief and fly out residents. It is after 18 years that civilian flights are landing and taking off from the naval airport.


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