At least 40 people died in heavy rains, landslides, and a building collapse in the Indian state of Maharashtra, as rescue operations continued on a war footing.
Minister of relief and rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar said 36 people lost their lives after a landslide in a village in the Raigad district of the state. Authorities said evacuation and relocation of people living in areas prone to landslides have been ordered.
Local reports said that around 35 houses were instantly buried after the landslide in the district on Thursday.
Mr Wadettiwar expressed fears that the number of deaths will increase as people are still not accounted for.
Four people died in capital Mumbai after a building collapsed. A state government official, who were not named, told Reuters that 27 others were also killed due to rain-related incidents in other parts of Maharashtra. The official said that dozens of people are fear trapped after the landslides.
Rescue operations using helicopters are underway, and authorities have appealed to people trapped to go to their rooftops or heights from where rescue teams in helicopters can spot them.
Authorities said units of Indian Navy, the Coast Guard and the Indian Army have joined the relief and rescue operations in flood-hit Raigad and Ratnagiri districts. Teams of National Disaster Response Force have also been deployed, but rescue efforts have been hampered by rains.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said rescue teams were facing major problems in reaching the flood-affected areas of Chiplun city in Ratnagiri because roads and bridges are damaged.
He said the situation is tense and based on the weather agency’s forecast, it will remain grave for the next couple of days, according to The Hindu. The Indian Meteorological Department issued a warning for several districts in Maharashtra on Thursday, predicting heavy rains for the next three days.
India’s home minister Amit Shah spoke to Mr Thackeray on Friday and took stock of the situation, saying the central government is providing all possible help to the state.
Prime minister Narendra Modi has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh (£1,957) each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives due to the landslide in Raigad and Rs 50,000 (£489) would be given to the injured.
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