The death toll from floods and landslides has risen to 159, Indian officials said Sunday, with dozens more missing.
Heavy rains have lashed the west coast of the country since Thursday, with the Indian Meteorological Department warning of more rains in the next few days.
Floods and landslides are common in India’s treacherous monsoon season, and often unstable rains lead to poorly constructed buildings even after the rains.
Experts say climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of annual floods.
In the state of Maharashtra, more than 40 people were killed on Thursday when a massive landslide hit the hill village of Talia, about 250 km (155 miles) southeast of Mumbai, killing 149 people.
“Many people were trying to flee when they were swept away,” villager Jeram Mahaske, whose relatives were stranded, told AFP.
Another villager, Govind Mulsare, said his nephew’s body was found after it hit his family member’s house, but his mother, brother, sister-in-law and niece are still missing.
Residents told AFP that dozens of houses had become flats in just a few houses, leaving only two concrete structures standing, and power outages.
In Satara district, which was affected by landslides and floods, the number of 28 more bodies rose to 41.
After 24 hours of uninterrupted rain in some parts of Chaplin, the water level rose to 20 feet (six meters) on Thursday. Since then, the water level has begun to recede.
“Rain, floods, water are not new to the people here but this time what happened was unimaginable and the rapid rise of water,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Adhav Thackeray told reporters after a visit to Chaplin on Sunday. Because they could not save their belongings. “
Eight patients died at a local Covid 19 hospital after power supply to ventilators was reportedly cut off.
“The water level reached the roof of my shop, there was so much water inside,” a shopkeeper told Indian news broadcaster NDTV, pointing to the mud and debris around him.
“All the shops in the area have been completely damaged. The floods have left so much dust behind. We can’t resume work.”
About 230,000 people were evacuated across the state amid severe conditions. Rescue workers were working in the deep mud of the back to search for the 100 missing people with the help of excavators.
In neighboring Goa, a woman was feared to have drowned in the floods, officials said, with Chief Minister Promode Sawant saying it was the worst since 1982.
Ajit Rai, a North Goa official, told AFP that floodwaters had since helped people who had been evacuated.
In coastal plains spread across Maharashtra and Goa, floodwaters rose after riverbanks erupted and frightened residents sought protection on rooftops and upper floors. Forced
Further south in the state of Karnataka, the death toll rose to nine overnight, with four others missing, officials said.
Electricity supply was disrupted in the affected 11 districts and crops were damaged in many lands.
Climate change is warming the Arabian Sea, said Roxy Matthew Cole, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
He said that due to high temperature of water, the air above can get hot and there is more humidity, which is leading to heavy rainfall.
“They’ve seen a threefold increase in the incidence of heavy rainfall since 1950,” Cole told AFP.
He added that Mahabaleshwar, a hill station south of Mumbai, received 594 mm of rain on Friday, the highest since the start of the record a century ago.
“In recent years, the effects of climate change (on the monsoon in India) are more pronounced. In fact, what has happened in Europe, China and the rest of the world is similar to what is happening in India.”
In a separate incident in northern India on Sunday, nine people were killed and three others seriously injured when their vehicle was hit by a rock in the mountainous Kannur district of Himachal Pradesh.
Officials said the stoning – which was captured in dramatic video footage shared on social media – was not due to monsoon rains but to loose soil due to a lack of vegetation.
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