With Kerala facing its worst floods and landslides in nearly a century, an animal charity body said today its rescuers were battling treacherous conditions to rescue and rehabilitate stranded and abandoned animals.
Humane Society International India said many animals have perished in the disaster and were working with the Kerala government and the National Disaster Response Force to locate and rescue dogs, cats and other animals left behind during evacuations.
The deadliest deluge in close to a century has claimed 324 lives since August 8, and dealt a body blow to the scenic state, wrecking its tourism industry, destroying standing crops in thousands of hectares and inflicting huge damage to infrastructure.
As the monsoon savaged Kerala, claiming 106 lives yesterday, the state plunged deeper into misery today with hospitals facing shortage of oxygen and fuel stations running dry.
A team of six HSI India experts have been operating in Nilambur and Tirur, Kerala's worst-affected regions, for the past four days.
HSI India's team is also providing vital medicines, shelter and food for sick and injured animals.
Sally Varma, HSI India's education and awareness officer, reported that vast numbers of animals have drowned in the disaster and its team is also finding animals trapped in the remains of dwellings swept away by the water.
Other animals, like two puppies that HSI India have named Wally and Eva, were found tied up in danger of drowning as the water levels rose.
One woman in Thrissur refused to leave her home without help to rescue her 25 dogs, so HSI India's team arranged for their shelter at a nearby veterinary hospital so that they and the woman would be safe, HSI India said in a statement.
"Kerala is at a standstill right now, with many areas experiencing total devastation. Our team is encountering many animals who have perished. However, we are still finding abandoned dogs and were recently able to rescue 13 dogs and a tiny kitten who we found trembling as the floods raged around him.
"We are bracing ourselves for when the floods finally subside and we can finally access some of the areas currently totally cut off, where we may find more animals we're desperately hoping to reach," Varma said.
HSI India is also coordinating with the collector of the districts and government veterinary hospitals to assist and to accommodate animals across Kerala.Though there was some let up in rains at a few places in the state, four districts of Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur remained in the throes of the monsoon fury.