India monsoon death toll climbs to 127 as rescuers search for missing

In Maharashtra state, 114 people have been killed. PHOTO: AFP/NATIONAL DISASTER RESPONSE FORCE

MUMBAI (AFP) - The death toll from flooding and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in India climbed to 127 on Sunday (July 25), officials said, with rescuers searching for dozens more missing.

The country's western coast has been inundated by torrential rains since Thursday, with the India Meteorological Department warning of further downpours over the next few days.

In Maharashtra state, 117 people have been killed, including more than 40 in a large landslide that hit the hillside village of Taliye, south of Mumbai, on Thursday.

Villager Jayram Mahaske, whose relatives remained trapped, told AFP that "many people were washed away as they were trying to run away" when the landslide hit.

It flattened dozens of homes in a matter of minutes, leaving just two concrete structures standing and cutting off power supply, local residents told AFP.

Rescuers were scouring the mud and debris for 99 others still missing.

"My entire team is engaged in rescue operations now," National Disaster Response Force Inspector Rajesh Yawale, who was coordinating rescue operations in the village, told AFP on Saturday.

He said many bodies were washed away, with some found stuck among trees downstream.

A dozen others were killed in two separate landslides, also south of Mumbai.

In parts of Chiplun, water levels rose to nearly six metres on Thursday after 24 hours of uninterrupted rain submerged roads and homes.

Eight patients at a local Covid-19 hospital also reportedly died after power supply to ventilators was cut off by the floods.

In neighbouring Goa, a woman drowned, the state government told the Press Trust of India, in what Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said were the "worst floods since 1982".

In the coastal plains spanning Maharashtra and Goa, floodwater levels remained elevated after rivers burst their banks.

Terrified residents climbed onto rooftops and upper floors to escape swelling waters.

Members of National Disaster Response Force conduct a search and rescue operation after a landslide in Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra state, India, on July 25, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Further south in Karnataka state, the death toll rose from three to nine overnight, with four others missing, officials said.

Power supply was disrupted in the 11 affected districts and officials added that there were crop losses across vast swathes of land.

Flooding and landslides are common during India's treacherous monsoon season, which also often sees poorly constructed buildings buckle after days of non-stop rain.

Four people died before dawn on Friday when a building collapsed in a Mumbai slum, authorities said.

The incident came less than a week after at least 34 people lost their lives when several homes were crushed by a collapsed wall and a landslide in the city.

In a separate incident in northern India on Sunday, nine people were killed and three seriously injured after their vehicle was hit by falling rocks in the mountainous Kinnaur district in Himachal Pradesh.

The rockslide - captured in dramatic video footage shared on social media - was not caused by monsoon rains but by loose soil due to a lack of vegetation, officials said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.