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At least 60 dead as rains batter western Maharashtra

The site of a landslide at Taliye village in Maharashtra’s Satara district on July 23, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

At least 60 persons have lost their lives in landslides triggered by intense rain in western Maharashtra and the coastal Konkan region as monsoon fury continued unabated over the region on Friday.

While the entire State, including the normally arid Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, have been receiving particularly heavy showers over the last 72 hours, the situation remained particularly grim in the Mahad and Poladpur tehsils in Raigad, Chiplun and Khed in Ratnagiri, as well as the ‘sugar belt’ districts of Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli.

49 of those killed died in three separate landslides in Raigad itself. Tragedy struck Taliye village in Mahad on Thursday evening when the entire village of around 35 houses was instantly buried in a major landslip in an incident strongly reminiscent of the 2014 Malin landslide in Pune.

While precise casualty figures was not confirmed, authorities said so far more than 35 bodies had been recovered from the debris while more than 70 people were missing. Other sources said 38 bodies had been retrieved till now.

Local people were the first responders as heavy rainfall, waterlogging, and disrupted connectivity delayed National and State Disaster Response Forces (NDRF and SDRF) teams. The relief teams struggled to clear boulders and damaged roads to reach the village.

Areas inundated with flood water after heavy monsoon rains in Raigad district on July 23, 2021. Photo: Indian Navy via AFP

Areas inundated with flood water after heavy monsoon rains in Raigad district on July 23, 2021. Photo: Indian Navy via AFP  

 

Rescue operations in Taliye had to be called off after 6 p.m. due to poor visibility compounded by increasing rain.

Five persons were reported killed in neighbouring Sakhar Sutarwadi village in another landslide, and a further six lost their lives in Kevnale in Poladpur taluk. Thirteen injured persons were undergoing treatment at hospitals in Poladpur and Mahad.

PM’s condolences

Expressing anguish at the loss of lives caused by the Raigad landslide, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ₹2 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased from the PM's National Relief Fund. A sum of ₹50,000 would be given to the injured, the PMO said.

“Anguished by the loss of lives due to a landslide in Raigad, Maharashtra. My condolences to the bereaved families. I wish the injured a speedy recovery. The situation in Maharashtra due to heavy rains is being closely monitored and assistance is being provided to the affected,” Mr Modi tweeted.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and said the Centre would extend all possible help to the State government to deal with the situation.

Blame game

The opposition BJP meanwhile blamed the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government for apathy and tardiness in rescue operations.

“When we reached here in the morning, neither the local administration, nor any NDRF team was in sight… This government seems to be utterly callous to the fate of its people,” said BJP Leader of Opposition Pravin Darekar, who reached the accident spot along with fellow BJP leader Girish Mahajan.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who held an emergency meeting to review the situation in the Konkan, assured that rescue operations were proceeding speedily and that the government’s priority was to save lives at any cost.

He said rescue teams were facing enormous problems as in several places, roads had been utterly damaged or washed away by the floodwaters or rockfalls, especially in villages and hamlets in the mountainous tracts.

“Unfortunately, in Taliye, more than 30 persons have lost their lives in a landslide…now, heavy downpours have begun in Nagpur in Vidarbha as well. Our priority is to ensure that there is no loss of life. NDRF, Coastguard, SDRF and local teams have been mobilized on a war footing in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Thackeray said.

“The situation continues to remain grave as it was yesterday and will continue to be like this for the next couple of days, going by IMD warnings… At several points, NDRF teams have had to cut a path to reach the spot of accident… We are making all provisions to take care of those who have lost their houses in the rains. While nobody can estimate the extent of rainfall or predict landslides like this, we are combating the crisis despite the pandemic,” he said.

State Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar claimed that local authorities had moved the people in Taliye to a safe place a few days back after rains had intensified.

“However, when the waters had receded, these people moved back to their original homes,” Mr. Wadettiwar said.

He further informed that a total 14 NDRF teams including two in Raigad, four in Ratnagiri and others in Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, besides SDRF, Navy coastguard and IAF Mi-17 IV helicopters were being deployed in rescue operations in the afflicted regions.

Appealing to people to remain put in their houses, Raigad District Collector Nidhi Chaudhary said that drinking water and food had been provided for those rescued in the Taliye incident while all rescue teams in Mahad and elsewhere were shifting people to safer zones.

Meanwhile, there were reports of eight people killed in landslide incidents in Satara district while 17 others are said to be trapped in a similar incident in Birmani village in Ratnagiri’s Khed taluk.

Reprieve for Chiplun

Rain-battered Chiplun in Ratnagiri, the worst-hit tehsil in the State, saw brief relief as showers eased in intensity on Friday morning, allowing rescue operations.

Relatives of eight patients in a COVID centre, who were on ventilator support and are believed to have died, have accused the district administration of negligence in not shifting them to a safer place on time.

More than 400 persons were rescued by different personnel after the rains let up early in early on Friday morning.

“The showers stopped a little after 2 a.m. this morning following which floodwaters, too, have begun gradually receding. However, until then, Chiplun faced a harrowing time,” said Maharashtra Minister Uday Samant, who represents the Ratnagiri Assembly constituency.

Mr. Samant said that there was no clear picture yet on the casualties in Chiplun, adding that electricity was expected to be restored over the next 48 hours.


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 5:41:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/many-killed-in-landslide-in-raigad-as-rain-situation-remains-grim-in-konkan-western-maharashtra/article35485456.ece

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