Press Trust of india

Maha: Death toll from landslides, floods rises to 82 as rain fury leaves trail of destruction

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Mumbai: The death toll from the torrential rains that battered Maharashtra over the last three days and triggered landslides rose to 82 on Saturday including 47 in the coastal Raigad district while at least 59 persons are missing, officials said.

As people in flood-hit towns such as Chiplun, Khed and Mahad struggled to come to terms with the disaster, the challenge before the administration is to restore water and electricity supply and arrange food and medicines in affected areas.

As many as 41 bodies have been recovered at Taliye village in Raigad where a landslide struck on Thursday. Several others are still missing, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Konkan) Sanjay Mohite told PTI.

The India Meteorology Department (IMD) said rainfall intensity along the west coast was expected to decrease over the next 24 hours.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed 34 teams for rescue operations in the state, its spokesperson said. Besides, teams of local administration and the Army are engaged in rescue and relief work.

In Satara district of Western Maharashtra, at least 13 bodies have been recovered from the sites of landslide at Ambeghar and Dhokawale villages, collector Shekhar Singh said. The landslides had occurred on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.

Eleven deaths have been reported in Ratnagiri district, five in Kolhapur, four in Mumbai, two in Sindhudurg and one in Pune. As many as 59 people are still missing, including 53 in Raigad, while 90,604 people have been evacuated to safer places so far, officials said. President Ram Nath Kovind called Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari during the day and expressed his concern over the loss of life and property in the state due to rains and floods. Besides Raigad, the coastal Ratnagiri and Western Maharashtra’s Satara and Kolhapur districts have been worst affected by the rain fury. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh each will be given to the kin of the victims, while the Central government has announced Rs 2 lakh each. Besides, ration kits including rice, pulses and kerosene will be distributed in affected areas, he said.

The Maharashtra government was coordinating with the neighbouring Karnataka to ensure timely release of water from Almatti dam so as to ease the floods in the Kolhapur district which is upstream of the reservoir, he said.

As landslides proved fatal in many parts of the state, the government would come up with a plan to permanently relocate people living in hilly areas, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

He was speaking to reporters at Taliye village, the site of the deadliest landslide. “People living on hill slopes and hilly areas would be shifted and relocated. A plan would be made to shift small settlements from such places, he said.

Two more landslides took place in the Raigad district, while three took place in Satara district including the one at Ambeghar village.

Flooding is witnessed in Western Maharashtra during monsoon due to rise in water level of rivers. Hence, a policy would be formulated for the management of water in this region,'” the chief minister added.

“You will be taken care of. Don’t worry,” Thackeray told the villagers. In Ratnagiri district, towns of Chiplun and Khed were among the worst-affected by the floods.

Schools as well as some private properties are being used as shelters as well as primary treatment centres for the injured. The real challenge is identifying and tracing missing people,” a senior official of the NDRF said.

State minister Uday Samant said water has receded from some areas of Chiplun town, but some parts are still inundated. The topography of Chiplun town is like a bowl, said a district official. “In the past, locals have seen roads going under water when it rains heavily. But this time it was different. In many places, the water level was higher than 14 feet, submerging entire houses,” he said.

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