Indian monsoon toll hits 500

Justin Huggler
Friday 29 July 2005 00:00

More than 500 people have died in flooding and landslides after the heaviest monsoon rains ever recorded in India. More than half of the deaths have been in Bombay, India's largest city and the powerhouse of the world's second fastest-growing economy.

Bombay was emerging from the worst of the floods yesterday. Some trains began running again and the airport reopened. Many commuters were able to struggle home after two days stranded in the city.

But as the waters receded the scale of the disaster became clear. At least 56 people died in a landslide in a single Bombay slum yesterday. Outside the city, rescuers were digging with their bare hands for the bodies of at least 100 who are missing since their homes were buried under a mudslide in the village of Juigaon, which is 95 miles south of Bombay.

"The chances of finding any survivors from Jui are bleak," said Suresh Kakine, an official with Mahrashtra's state relief operations.

At the height of the flooding, when all the city's transport collapsed, more than 150,000 people were stranded. One survivor in the city, Sonali Mahajan, e-mailed the BBC. "I survived last night thanks to local residents ... who were handing out food and water to countless people walking home."

On Tuesday, the city received an unprecedented 37in of rain in a day - more than most places in the world get in a year.

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