By Rajendra Jadhav and Manoj Kumar
MUMBAI / NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Rescue teams in India struggled through thick mud and debris on Saturday to reach dozens of submerged homes as the death toll from landslides and accidents caused by torrential monsoon rains rose. to 125.
The state of Maharashtra is being hit by the heaviest rain in July in four decades, experts say. The downpours that lasted for several days have severely affected the lives of hundreds of thousands, while major rivers are in danger of overflowing.
In Taliye, about 180 kilometers (110 miles) southeast of the financial capital of Mumbai, the death toll rose to 42 with the recovery of four more bodies after landslides washed away most of the houses in the village. said a senior Maharashtra government official.
“About 40 people are still trapped. The possibility of rescuing them alive is slim as they have been trapped in the mud for more than 36 hours,” said the official, who declined to be named for not being authorized to speak to the media. .
Severe weather has hit several parts of the world in recent weeks, with floods in China and Western Europe and heat waves in North America, raising new fears about the impact of climate change.
Parts of the west coast of India have received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rain, forcing authorities to remove people from vulnerable areas while releasing water from overflowing dams. The Mahabaleshwar hill station recorded the highest rainfall in its history: 60 cm in 24 hours.
Rescuers were searching for landslide victims in four other locations in the state, the official said.
“Around 90,000 people were rescued from the flood-affected areas,” the Maharashtra government said in a statement, as authorities released water from overflowing dams.
Thousands of trucks were stuck for more than 24 hours on a highway linking Mumbai to the South Bengaluru technology hub, with the road submerged in places.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was distraught over the loss of life.
“The situation in Maharashtra due to heavy rains is being closely monitored and assistance is being provided to those affected,” Modi said on Twitter on Friday.
In the southern state of Telangana, heavy rains caused flooding in the state capital of Hyderabad and other low-lying areas.
Indian environmentalists have warned that climate change and indiscriminate construction in fragile coastal regions could lead to more disasters.
“The fury of the rain that hit Mahabaleshwar … is a strong warning against any further manipulation of the ecologically fragile Western Ghats,” said environmental economist Devendra Sharma on Twitter referring to the chain of hills along the west coast. from India.
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