Landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains have hit parts of western India, killing at least 36 people and leading to the overnight rescue of more than 1,000 others trapped by floodwaters, officials say.
Three landslides hit Raigad district on Thursday, a local official told the AFP news agency on Friday, as uninterrupted rain left thousands stranded in Maharashtra state, home to India’s financial and entertainment capital Mumbai.
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“At least 35 to 40 people are still trapped, we are trying to rescue them,” the official said.
Due to landslides in Talai village, Raigad around 35 people have lost their lives. Rescue operation is underway at many places. I have ordered the evacuation & relocation of people who are living in areas where there is a possibility of landslide: Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray pic.twitter.com/neZl4BsDqE
— ANI (@ANI) July 23, 2021
Raigad District Collector Nidhi Chaudhary said many people were stranded on rooftops and even on top of the buses on highways, she said.
Chaudhary said the rains had slowed and water levels were coming down on Friday, making it easier for rescuers to reach the area.
Elsewhere in the region, a house collapsed on Friday after heavy rains in the Shivaji Nagar area in eastern Mumbai, killing two people and injuring eight others, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
In Ratnagiri district, 200 people were rescued from hilly areas on Thursday after the heavy rains, according to PTI.
In the coastal town of Chiplun, home to 70,000 people, more than half the area was flooded, the news agency reported.
BN Patil, district administrator of Ratnagiri, said he has sought the help of the army, coastguard and the National Disaster Response Force for rescue operations.
An Indian Navy statement said it has deployed helicopters for evacuating stranded people and sent rescue teams with boats to the region.
Last weekend, more than 30 people were killed in landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in and around Mumbai.
In Telangana state in India’s south, authorities on Friday sounded an alert as heavy rains caused floods in state capital Hyderabad and other low-lying areas.
Meteorologists said 300mm (11.8 inches) of rain has fallen so far this month in Hyderabad, known as one of India’s information technology hubs – the most for July in 10 years.
The floodgates of one of the main reservoirs, Osman Sagar, were opened for the first time in 10 years to discharge excess water.
Disasters caused by landslides and flooding are common in India during the June-September monsoon season, when heavy rains weaken the foundations of structures that are often poorly built.
The monsoon is crucial for rain-fed crops planted during the season but the rains often cause extensive damage and kill many people each year.
Experts said heavy rainfall along India’s western coast is in line with how rainfall patterns have changed over the region in past years due to climate change.
“The frequency and intensity of heavy rains has increased,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in the western city of Pune.
He added that the warming Arabian Sea was driving more cyclones and more intense rainfall over short periods of time.
“Every year we need to be prepared on the west coast,” he said.