The death toll in Kerala rose on Monday to nearly 400 after its worst flood in a century, as authorities handed out medicine and disinfectants to ward off disease in thousands of relief camps.
Dozens of people are missing and 1.2 million are sheltering in the camps, state officials said, as the water receded and a huge clean-up gathered pace.
"The death toll has risen to 373," an official of the state's disaster management authority told Reuters. Kerala received rainfall more than 40 per cent greater than normal for the monsoon season, which runs from June to September.
Torrential rain in the last 10 days forced officials to release water from dozens of dangerously full dams.
The Indian government classified the floods as a "calamity of severe nature."
Kerala has pitched it as a national disaster, which if accepted by the central government, is likely to prompt greater commitments of funds for relief and rebuilding efforts.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan called the flood one of the worst in India's history, displacing more than half a million people.
J.P. Nadda, the country's health minister, said more than 3,500 medical camps were set up across a region roughly the size of Switzerland, where rains since Aug. 8 have swelled rivers and triggered landslides.
The camps accommodate people rescued from neighbouring areas, which were among the worst affected.
The villagers had all pulled together to rescue people and prevent an even bigger disaster, Mahesh said.
"The flood has bonded the people like never before, sharing whatever they had."
Chlorine powder to disinfect water and other cleaning material is distributed by the camps Mahesh oversees, along with a basic survival kit consisting of a five-day supply of rice and food, toiletries and clothing.
Light to moderate rain was expected across Kerala on Monday, promising respite to rescue workers, who have battled rising waters and mudslides to reach tens of thousands of stranded villagers.
In one of the worst-hit areas, Chengannur, about 100 km (62 miles) from Kochi, a long queue of women snaked out of a medical camp at the main relief centre.
As a helicopter hovered overhead, doctors checked elderly men and women lying on wooden benches in an engineering college.
"People are being screened for respiratory infections," said a camp doctor, Rajesh Parameshwaran, adding that another infection doctors were targeted was leptospirosis, which can strike people wading through stagnant water.