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Over 70 dead as record monsoon rains wreak havoc in west India

Over 70 dead as record monsoon 
rains wreak havoc in west India

New Delhi
At least 72 people were killed in landslides and flood-related incidents brought on by record monsoon rains in western India, even as several hundred marooned locals were rescued by disaster management teams.
The deaths have been reported from the Raigad, Satara, Palghar and Ratnagiri districts of Maharashtra state as well as regional capital Mumbai since Thursday evening, with heavy rains forcing authorities to send the Indian navy and air force for rescue and evacuation efforts.
At least 47 people were killed in three landslides in Raigad, disaster management official Sagar Pathak said by phone. Thirty-six of the deaths were reported when a huge landslide flattened most parts of a small village called Taliye.
“Torrential rains have destroyed bridges, buildings and homes in the region. Disaster teams rescued 600 people who were stranded in their homes or [on] rooftops. Rescue efforts are hampered as the region is cut off as telecom towers are down, roads inundated and train services cancelled,” Pathak said.
While 21 were killed in flood-related incidents in Satara, Palghar and Ratnagiri, four more died when a building collapsed in Mumbai, local media reported, with authorities rescuing hundreds more in these areas.
Nearly 50 people were still trapped or missing in the affected districts and the death toll could rise, the reports said.
Incessant rains over the past 24 hours led to floods in the region.
This was the heaviest spell of rain in Maharashtra in July in 40 years, broadcaster NDTV reported.
“It is raining beyond the maximum limits. This is an unexpected crisis,” Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray told reporters.
“Dams and rivers are overflowing. We are forced to release water from dams, and, accordingly, we are moving people residing near the river banks to safer places.” Air force helicopters were carrying out rescue operations in the coastal town of Chiplun which was submerged by floodwaters, said the state’s relief minister, Vijay Wadettiwar.
Hundreds of villages and towns were without electricity and potable water, officials added.
More heavy rains are forecast in the coming days, according to the regional weather bureau.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed anguish over the “loss of lives” due to the landslide.
More than 30 people were killed in landslides and rain-related accidents in and around Mumbai since last weekend.
Landslides and floods are common during India’s monsoon season, which occurs between June and October.
The rains are vital for agriculture, but often cause immense destruction of property and crops, and lead to the loss of hundreds of lives.