Several killed as dam breaches amid heavy monsoon rains in India

Heaviest monsoon rains in a decade have breached a dam in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

    Rescue workers carry the body of a victim after a wall collapsed at a slum in Mumbai, India [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]
    Rescue workers carry the body of a victim after a wall collapsed at a slum in Mumbai, India [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

    At least six people have been killed and 18 are missing after the heaviest monsoon rains in a decade breached a dam in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, authorities said.

    Police in Maharashtra state's Ratnagiri district said the Tiware dam burst late on Tuesday during incessant rains and swept away nearly a dozen homes.

    "Using drones, we have located six dead bodies and over 18 people are still missing," Alok Awasthy, spokesman for India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), told AFP news agency on Wednesday.

    "We have deployed two teams after the Tiware dam breach occurred last night and are looking for survivors," Awasthy added.

    Besides NDRF, police teams and government officials were also looking for survivors in Ratnagiri, 275km from Mumbai.

    Seasonal rains have crippled India's financial centre of Mumbai this week, disrupting rail and air traffic in the city of 18 million people.

    On Tuesday, a wall collapsed in a Mumbai slum because of the rains, killing at least 22 people and injuring scores as the deluge crippled India's financial capital.

    Six labourers also died in the nearby city of Pune when another wall subsided.

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    On Wednesday, rains continued to lash the coastal city of 20 million people, bringing it to a virtual standstill as flooding cut train lines, closed the airport's main runway and caused traffic misery.

    Building collapses and dam breaches are common during the monsoon in India due to dilapidated structures that buckle under the weight of continuous rain.

    India's weather department has warned of "extremely heavy rainfall" in parts of Mumbai in the coming days.

    According to Skymet Weather, a private-weather tracking agency, Mumbai faces serious risks of flooding with more than 200mm of rain expected in the next few days.

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    SOURCE: News agencies