Over 800 killed in India monsoon rains

Deaths from India's heaviest rainfall on record have surged past the 800 mark when residents of a Mumbai shantytown stampeded following false rumours a dam had burst, police and officials said.

    The rains paralysed Mumbai and surrounding areas

    Floods, landslides and building collapses had claimed at least 786 lives in  Maharashtra state prior to Thursday's stampede in the

    suburb of Nehru Nagar which left a further 16 dead including seven

    children.

    Eighteen people were also injured in the stampede, which

    followed reports that the dam holding back the waters of nearby Lake

    Pawai had burst.

     

     

    Weather officials predicted more heavy rain for the city of 15 million, which has been brought to a near-standstill with schools, banks and stock markets closed and public transport barely operating.

      

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who on Thursday toured the

    rain-ravaged areas in a helicopter, said he was "deeply pained by this human tragedy" and announced emergency aid totalling seven billion rupees ($162 million) for the Maharashtra state government. 

     

    The city's weather bureau said Mumbai received 944.2 mm

    (37.1 inches) of rainfall in a 24-hour period ending mid-morning

    on Wednesday, the most rainfall ever recorded in a single day in India and beating a record which has stood since July 1910. 

    Search for survivors

    Rescue teams meanwhile continue to search with bare hands for survivors under debris.

    Prime Minister Singh announced
    emergency aid for the state

    Rescuers also rushed to aid to villages cut off by rains that paralysed Mumbai and its surrounding state.

    At least 273 people died in Mumbai, India's financial capital in Maharashtra state, after being crushed by falling walls, trapped in cars or electrocuted when the most intense rains on record swept through the city on Tuesday evening.

    Phone networks collapsed  and highways were blocked. 

    However, the main airport reopened early on Wednesday afternoon after being

    closed since Tuesday due to waterlogged runways.

     

    Relief materials

      

    Aside from allowing the resumption of commercial flights, the

    reopening had allowed the air force to start flying in relief

    materials.

      

    Suburban trains - the lifeline of the city - were also limping

    back to normal, a railway official said, but inter-city lines had

    yet to be restored. 

     

    At least 513 people were reported dead in different parts of Maharashtra, said BM Kulkarni, the deputy secretary in charge of the state's emergency control room in Mumbai.

    About 76,000 animals have been killed, and 700,000 hectares

    (1.72 million acres) of land and 283,000 houses have been damaged, said Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil.

      
    He said 5.6 million people in 131 districts and 16,000 villages

    have been affected by the floods.

     

    Oil blaze

    Rescuers saved workers from
    a blazing offshore oil platform

    Meanwhile, rescuers battling towering seas through the night rescued 354 workers from a blazing Indian offshore oil platform, but at least 10 people died and a search was under way for several still missing, officials said on Thursday.
     
    Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told parliament that 384 personnel had to abandon the platform when it caught fire on Wednesday afternoon.

    "So far, 10 personnel are confirmed dead," Aiyar said.

    Aiyar told parliament that heavy sea swells pushed a nearby support vessel into the platform which sparked a blaze that engulfed and destroyed both.
      
    State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp, which owns the platform, said 14 workers were still missing.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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