At least 50 dead in rain-related incidents in western India
At least 50 people were reported dead and thousands displaced because of heavy rains in coastal Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa in the past 24 hours even as India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a red alert for the entire western coast predicting heavy rains over the weekend.
The entire western coastal region from Maharashtra to Kerala has received very heavy rainfall in the past 24 hours, leaving 47 people dead in Maharashtra (36 in a landslide in Raigard district). Eleven people on board a bus had a narrow escape as they were rescued just before the vehicle got washed away into a river in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra early on Friday, police said.
At 9 pm on Thursday, the IMD warned that “very intense spells of short duration” would occur over parts of the western coast. As predicted, the areas received very heavy rainfall with some areas receiving up to 600 mm of rainfall in four to five hours. Mahabaleshwar, a hill station in Maharashtra’s Satara district recorded the highest ever rainfall in its history with 600mm in 24 hours.
Many regions in Goa and North Karnataka received up to 300 mm with Valpoi in Sattari receiving 296.2 mm and Belagavi in Karnataka receiving 278 mm of rainfall, respectively. The IMD has predicted heavy rainfall in the next five days.
Even though Maharashtra bore the maximum brunt of the rainfall, three persons died in northern Karnataka and one in Goa as villages in the coastal region got submerged in rainwater and authorities had to open gates of the dam to release excess water.
Dr Manoj Rajan, Commissioner, Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority said parts of Belagavi, Chikkamagaluru, Dharward, Haveri, Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada are facing the brunt of floods due to incessant rains over the past few days.
The rivers Krishna, Cauvery, Tungabhadra, Bhima, Kapila (Kabini) and many others in Malnad and coastal Karnataka are in spate, said the KSDMA officer.
Details shared by him showed that 131 villages in 18 Taluks are badly hit, affecting 16,213 people. While three people lost their lives, two are missing, he added. Sixty-five bridges, 10 schools and a primary health centre were damaged, while 291.03 km of roads were washed away.
So far, 8,733 people have been evacuated to safety and about 4,964 people are staying across 80 relief camps. Landslides were reported in eight places, including Virajpet in Kodagu district and Arabail Ghat in Uttara Kannada district, the officer said.
Karnataka chief minister, BS Yediyurappa, who reviewed the flood situation with top officials on Friday, directed all district in-charge ministers and MLAs to oversee relief work in their areas. He said the government would extend all necessary support to relief and rescue efforts and assist farmers who suffered losses due to the untimely rain and hailstorms.
In Goa, the overnight heavy rainfall inundated houses, leaving hundreds of stranded homes flooded, communication lines snapped and rail and road traffic disrupted. Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant inspected the areas flooded due to incessant rains in various parts of Bicholim taluka, another of the affected taluks and directed the officials to provide immediate assistance to people in distress. 23 people in Harvalem in Bicholim were rescued and brought to safety.
A bridge in Paikul Sattari washed away cutting the village off from the mainstream while at least three incidents of houses collapsing after being inundated by floodwaters were reported from different parts of Goa.
In a related incident, the engine and a passenger coach of the Mangaluru Jn-Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Express Spl (which was running on the diverted route via Madgaon-Londa-Miraj due to overflow of Vashishti River between Chiplun and Kamathe), suffered a derailment between Dudhsagar-Sonaulim section along the steep slope of the Western Ghats.
“No passenger casualty has been reported (no injury/death). The passengers of the affected coach have been shifted to other coaches. The train is being pulled back to Kulem, and has crossed Sonaulim at this time,” the South Western Railway, which operates the railway line said, in a statement.
Roads connected Goa, North Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra have also been cut off due to landslides halting the flow of traffic. Several villages in Valpoi, Bicholim, Pernem and Ponda talukas were cut off after the roads leading to the villages got affected.
Traffic on the Mumbai-Bengaluru national highway remained suspended on Friday after part of the stretch witnessed inundation near Shiroli under Kolhapur district and Yamgarni village in Belgaum district. This prompted local police to block the vehicular traffic from crossing the stretch.
According to Kolhapur Superintendent of Police Shailesh Balkawade, water has started coming on the highway near Shiroli village. “As a part of precaution, the road has been closed for vehicular traffic,” said Balkawade.
“Due to continuous and heavy rainfall, Mhadei has been overflowing. Water has entered different parts of Valpoi. Our people have faced immense hardship due to continuous and heavy rainfall in Sattari,” health minister Vishwajit Rane, who represents the Valpoi constituency, said.
However, the release of excess water in dams in Maharashtra and Karnataka brought some relief in flooding areas even though it caused a scare among people downstream. Both Maharashtra and Karnataka governments warned people living downstream of rivers to be cautious of the sudden flow of water from the dams. About 2.5 lakh cusec of water was released from Almatti dam in Karnataka on Friday afternoon.
In northern India, rains continued in parts of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Three children drowned in swollen rivers in Haldwani and Rudrapur areas of Kumaon in two separate incidents, police said. Although no casualty was reported from Himachal, rains caused landslides leading to blockade of traffic on several roads, officials said.