Landslides kill 36 in India, dozens missing

Mumbai, IndiaUpdated: Jul 23, 2021, 03:47 PM IST

In this handout photo taken on July 23, 2021, by the Indian Navy shows areas inundated with flood water after heavy monsoon rains in Raigad district of Maharashtra. Photograph:(AFP)

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As many as 40 other people were missing after the three separate landslides on Thursday in the Raigad district of the western state of Maharashtra

Thirty-six people have been killed in landslides caused by monsoon rains in India, authorities said Friday.

As many as 40 other people were missing after the three separate landslides on Thursday in the Raigad district of the western state of Maharashtra.

"At least 35 to 40 people are still trapped, we are trying to rescue them," a local official said, adding that "36 people have died after there were three landslides yesterday in the district caused by very heavy rainfull."

The Navy and Air Force meanwhile joined rescue efforts after the heavy rains caused floods that left thousands stranded.

Rescue efforts were being hampered by landslides blocking roads, including the main highway between Mumbai and Goa.

Water levels rose to 3.5 metres (12 feet) in areas of Chiplun, a city 250 kilometres (160 miles) from Mumbai, following 24 hours of uninterrupted rain that caused the Vashishti river to overflow, submerging roads and homes.

The Indian Navy deployed seven rescue teams equipped with rubber boats, life jackets and lifebuoys to the affected areas, along with a helicopter to airlift marooned residents. Specialist Navy divers accompanied each team.

India's meteorological department has issued red alerts for several regions in the state, indicating that heavy rainfall will continue for the next few days.

Frequent danger

Flooding and landslides are common during India's treacherous monsoon season between June and September, while also causing poorly constructed buildings and walls to collapse.

At least 34 people were killed after several homes were crushed by a collapsed wall and a landslide triggered in Mumbai, capital on Maharashtra, last weekend.

Rainwater also inundated a water purification complex, disrupting supply "in most of the parts of Mumbai", a megacity of 20 million people, civic authorities said.

Last month, 12 people were killed when a building collapsed in a Mumbai slum.

And last September, 39 people died when a three-storey apartment block collapsed in Bhiwandi near the financial capital.

Climate change is making India's monsoons stronger, according to a report from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) published in April.

The report warned of potentially severe consequences for food, farming and the economy affecting nearly a fifth of the world's population.

"Since Indian society is overall affected by the monsoon in a very strong way, stronger variability produces problems for agriculture, but also for the organisation of public life," said Anders Levermann from PIK and Columbia University. 

Last year, five of the most costly extreme weather events in the world were related to Asia's unusually rainy monsoon, according to a tally by the 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.