As the monsoon toll rises to 79, India’s rescuers search for survivors.
Rescuers in India crawled through knee-deep mud and rubble in a desperate search for survivors on Saturday, as the death toll from monsoon rains grew to 79, with nearly 100,000 more forced to flee.
In recent days, torrential rains have pounded India’s western coast, leaving dozens of people missing in the financial hub Mumbai and causing the worst floods in decades in the resort state of Goa.
Witnesses told AFP that a landslide in the hilly town of Taliye, south of Mumbai, left only two concrete structures intact after demolishing dozens of homes in minutes.
Dilip Pandey, who witnessed the incident unfold on Thursday evening, said, “It occurred so rapidly.”
He told AFP, “There was a loud whooshing sound and the village suddenly fell.”
To the dismay of weeping relatives, emergency workers spent hours searching for survivors but only found bodies, with the landslide accounting for over half of the 76 monsoon-related deaths documented in Maharashtra state.
“People have lost nearly everything,” said Vishwajit Rane, Goa’s health minister, noting that the state, which borders Maharashtra, has not witnessed such high rains in more than a half-century.
Rising waters, he added, had penetrated residences, causing damage to over 1,000 homes.
The floods in Goa were the worst in decades, according to the state’s chief minister, Pramod Sawant, who said the monsoons caused “widespread damage” but no deaths.
Flooding was also triggered by heavy rains in various parts of the southwestern state of Karnataka, killing three people and forcing 9,000 more to flee, according to officials.
There were eight landslides reported, one of which derailed a train. Forecasters have issued a red alert for coastal areas, forecasting further flooding for the next three days.
During India’s dangerous monsoon season, flooding and landslides are prevalent, and poorly constructed buildings frequently buckle after days of nonstop rain.
According to a paper released in April by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, climate change is making monsoons stronger.
It foresaw dire effects for food, agriculture, and the economy, affecting about a fifth of the world’s population.
The latest flooding was “exceptional, but not unexpected,” according to Roxy Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
He tweeted, “We are already seeing a threefold increase in widespread heavy rains that create floods across India.”
According to reports, Maharashtra’s hillside resort of Mahabaleshwar received approximately 60 centimetres (23 inches) of rain in a 24-hour period ending Friday morning, the most it has ever seen.
The Savitri river breached its banks as a result of the rain, flooding Mahad. Brief News from Washington Newsday.