Mumbai/New Delhi: On Saturday, the death toll from landslides and accidents caused by heavy rain rose to 125. Indian rescue teams struggled through thick mud and debris to reach dozens of flooded houses.
Experts say that Maharashtra is suffering the heaviest rainfall in four decades. Heavy downpours that lasted for several days have seriously affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and major rivers are in danger of breaking their banks.
A senior government official in Maharashtra said that there were four more bodies after a landslide razed most of the houses in the village to the ground in Taliye, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) southeast of the financial capital Mumbai. It was restored, and the death toll rose to 42.
“About 40 people are still trapped. The possibility of rescuing them alive is thin as they’ve been trapped in mud for more than 36 hours,” said the official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
Harsh weather has hit several parts of the world in recent weeks, with floods in China and Western Europe and heat waves in North America, raising new fears about the impact of climate change.
Parts of India’s west coast have received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rain, forcing authorities to move people out of vulnerable areas as they released water from dams about to overflow. The hill station of Mahabaleshwar recorded its highest ever rainfall – 60 cm in 24 hours.
The official said rescuers are looking for landslide victims in four other places in the state.
“Around 90,000 people were rescued from flood affected areas,” the Maharashtra government said in a statement, as authorities released water from overflowing dams.
Thousands of trucks were trapped for more than 24 hours on the highway connecting Mumbai and the southern technological center of Bangalore, and parts of it were submerged.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he is suffering from the loss of life.
“The situation in Maharashtra due to heavy rains is being closely monitored and assistance is being provided to the affected,” Modi said on Twitter on Friday.
In the southern state of Telangana, heavy rain caused flooding in the state capital of Hyderabad and other low-lying areas.
Indian environmentalists have warned that climate change and indiscriminate construction in fragile coastal regions could lead to more disasters.
“The rain fury that lashed Mahabaleshwar … is a strong warning against any more tampering with the ecologically fragile Western Ghats,” environment economist Devendra Sharma said on Twitter referring to the range of hills along India’s west coast.