India flood toll tops 850

The discovery of more bodies has pushed the death toll from monsoon flooding in India to more than 850, with officials warning it would cross 1000.

    Rescue workers continue to pull bodies from landslides

    Meanwhile, workers began clearing thousands of animal carcasses to prevent the outbreak of diseases.
     
    Rain showers began intermittently hitting Bombay and its outlying areas again on Saturday, though with far less force than earlier in the week.

    Soldiers, navy divers and other rescuers have been searching for survivors since heavy monsoon rains and landslides battered vast areas of Maharashtra state, including the state capital Bombay, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Chief Secretary Prem Kumar, the state's top bureaucrat, said the final death toll could be more than 1000 as rescuers feared more bodies were still buried under debris in remote areas.

    "It could increase by 100 to 150. That's the rough estimate," Kumar said, saying rescue work was mostly over and officials were now focussing on relief for the distressed people.

    Disease threat

    More than 100 more bodies have been recovered over the past day, mainly from Raigarh district near Bombay, said Vishnu Patil, a rehabilitation official in the Maharashtra government.

    Authorities are worried about an
    outbreak of waterborne diseases  

    Patil said the death toll was 853 and warned it could rise further.

    "The dead bodies are still coming out, and are just being recovered from Raigarh," he said. He added that most of the new deaths were caused by landslides.

    As chances of finding survivors fade, civic authorities in Bombay turned to clearing animal carcasses and garbage in waterlogged areas to prevent any outbreak of waterborne
    diseases.

    The government has issued orders stopping all construction work in the city, so construction trucks can be used to transport garbage, debris and animal carcasses, mostly of cattle that can be found wandering in most Indian cities, said Satish Shinde, a civic official.

    There is no estimate available on livestock loss, but the figure is expected to run into thousands.

    "In Goregaon (a Bombay suburb) alone, we have seen 400 carcasses floating," Shinde said.

    Local newspapers carried advisories and volunteers at government-run health centres urged Bombay residents to take injections and medication for prevention of leptospirosis - an infection caused by water contamination.


    Flights suspended

    India's financial hub ground to a near-halt earlier after two days of torrential downpours.

    Rain showers continue to hit
    Bombay and outlying areas

    "The situation is improving in Bombay. But increased rainfall activity from this morning is worrying us," a relief official said on Saturday.

    Flights out of Bombay airport, India's busiest, were suspended after an Air India Boeing 747 skidded off the wet runway as it landed from the city of Bangalore, officials said.

    None of the 333 passengers on board was hurt.

    "The runway is blocked at the moment. No landing is taking place," said Air India spokesman Jitendra Bhargava.

    "All passengers are safe. They have all been taken off the aircraft and taken to the terminal building."

    In Bombay, city authorities and health workers continued to clear garbage and carcasses of animals and sprayed insecticide to prevent breeding of mosquitoes as stagnant flood waters remained in some areas.

     

    SOURCE: Agencies


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