Death toll rises in India from monsoon rains

INDIAN AIR FORCE (IAF) / AFP

Rescue teams in India struggled through thick sludge and debris on Saturday to reach dozens of submerged homes as the death toll from landslides and accidents caused by torrential monsoon rain rose to 125.

Maharashtra state is being hit by the heaviest rain in July in four decades, experts say. Downpours lasting several days have severely affected the lives of hundreds of thousands, while major rivers are in danger of bursting their banks.


In Taliye, about 180 km southeast of Mumbai, the death toll rose to 42 with the recovery of four more bodies after landslides flattened most homes in the village, a senior Maharashtra government official said.


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.
Rescuers were searching for victims of landslides in four other places in the state, the official said.


"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 stuck for more than 24 hours on a highway linking Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, with the road submerged in some places.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was in anguish over the loss of lives. "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.
 

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