Thirty-six people have been killed in landslides caused by monsoon rains in western India, authorities said on Friday.
No fewer than 40 other people were missing after the three separate landslides Thursday evening in the Raigad district of Maharashtra state, south of India’s financial capital Mumbai.
“At least 35 to 40 people are still trapped, we are trying to rescue them,” said a local official.
Elsewhere in the state, up to 15 people were also missing.
The Navy and Air Force joined rescue efforts after downpours caused flooding that left thousands stranded, but their operations were hampered by landslides blocking roads, including including the main highway between Mumbai and Goa.
Water levels reached 3.5 meters (12 feet) in areas of Chiplun, a city 250 kilometers (160 miles) from Mumbai, after 24 hours of uninterrupted rain that overflowed the Vashishti River, submerging the roads and houses.
The Indian Navy has deployed seven rescue teams equipped with inflatable boats, life jackets and lifebuoys to the affected areas, along with specialist divers and a helicopter to airlift stranded residents.
A landslide in the nearby town of Khed injured 10 people, according to a state government press release.
Another “10 to 15 people are likely to be trapped under the rubble,” the statement said.
India’s meteorological department has issued red alerts for several areas of the state, indicating that heavy rainfall will continue over the next few days.
– Frequent danger –
Floods and landslides are common during India’s dangerous monsoon season between June and September, which also causes poorly constructed buildings and walls to warp after days of uninterrupted rain.
At least 34 people have been killed after several homes were crushed by a collapsed wall and landslide in Mumbai over the weekend.
# photo1 Rainwater also flooded a water purification complex, disrupting supplies “in most areas of Mumbai”, a megalopolis of 20 million people, city officials said.
Last month, 12 people were killed in a building collapse in a Mumbai slum.
And last September, 39 people died when a three-story building fell in Bhiwandi, near the financial capital.
In 2014, more than 150 people lost their lives in Maharashtra when heavy rains collapsed a hill, burying dozens of villagers under mud and debris.
Climate change is strengthening the Indian monsoons, according to a report by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) released in April.
The report warns of potentially serious consequences for food, agriculture and the economy affecting nearly a fifth of the world’s population.
“As Indian society is globally affected by the monsoon in a very strong way, greater variability causes problems for agriculture, but also for the organization of public life,” said Anders Levermann of PIK and the Columbia University.
Five of the world’s costliest extreme weather events last year were linked to the unusually rainy monsoon in Asia, according to a count from charity Christian Aid.
In 2013, some 6,000 people died when flash floods and landslides swept away entire villages in the Indian state of Uttarakhand as rivers swollen by monsoon rains overflowed.
© 2021 AFP