Rain fury sweeps through India
At least 60 people were reported dead and thousands displaced due to heavy rains in coastal Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa in the past two days, even as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a red alert for the entire western coast over the weekend.
In Maharashtra, which is the worst-hit state along the western coast, 57 people died in various rain-related incidents, including a landslide in Raigad district that claimed 36 lives with the district administration saying almost equal number of people were still feared strapped under the debris. In another landslide incident at Kevanale in Raigad’s Poladpur tehsil, 11 bodies were recovered during multi-agency rescue efforts, said state officials. According to police, 11 people on board a bus had a narrow escape in Kolhapur district as they were rescued just before the vehicle got washed away in a river.
The IMD on Thursday night had warned of “very intense spells of short duration” over parts of western coast. On Friday, the entire western coast from Maharashtra to Kerala received very heavy rainfall with some receiving up to 600mm rain 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, including Valpoi in North Goa district (296.2 mm) and Belagavi in Karnataka (278 mm).
IMD has predicted heavy rainfall over the next five days.
In Karnataka, Dr Manoj Rajan, commissioner, Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), said parts of Belagavi, Chikkamagaluru, Dharward, Haveri, Shivamogga and Uttara Kannada were the worst-hit regions in the state due to incessant rains over the past few days. The rivers Krishna, Cauvery, Tungabhadra, Bhima, Kapila (Kabini) and others in Malnad and coastal Karnataka were in spate due to heavy rains, said the KSDMA officer.
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.
According to details shared by Rajan, 131 villages in 18 taluks were severely affected by floods, affecting 16,213 people. While three people lost their lives, two were missing, he said, adding that 65 bridges, 10 schools and a primary health centre were damaged, while 291.03 km of roads was washed away. So far, 8,733 people have been evacuated to safety while 4,964 people have been shifted to 80 relief camps. Landslides were reported in eight places, including Virajpet in Kodagu district and Arabail Ghat in Uttara Kannada district, the officer said.
In Goa, the overnight heavy rainfall inundated houses, leaving hundreds stranded, snapped communication lines and disrupted rail and road traffic. Chief minister Dr Pramod Sawant inspected the flooded areas, including Bicholim taluka, and directed the officials to provide immediate assistance to people in distress. According to state officials, 23 people at 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 house collapse after being inundated by flood waters were reported from different parts of Goa.
“Due to continuous and heavy rainfall, Mhadei has been overflowing. Water has entered different parts of Valpoi. People have faced immense hardship in Sattari,” health minister Vishwajit Rane, who represents the Valpoi constituency, said.
A major accident was averted when the engine and a passenger coach of the Mangaluru Jn- Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Express Special (which was running on the diverted route via Madgaon-Londa-Miraj due to overflow of Vashishti river between Chiplun and Kamathe), were derailed between Dudhsagar-Sonaulim section in Goa along the steep slope of the Western Ghats.
“No passenger casualty has been reported. The passengers of the affected coach were shifted to other coaches. The train is being pulled back to Kulem, and has crossed Sonaulim at this time,” the South Western Railway, said in a statement.
Roads connectivity in Goa, north Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra were also been cut off due to landslides. Traffic on the Mumbai-Bengaluru national highway remained suspended on Friday after part of the stretch inundated 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 precaution, the road has been closed for vehicular traffic,” said Balkawade.
Meanwhile, release of excess water in dams in Maharashtra and Karnataka has brought some relief in flooding areas even though it caused momentarily panic among people living downstream. Both Maharashtra and Karnataka governments issued warnings to people living downstream of rivers to be cautious of sudden flow of water from the dams. About 2.5 lakh cusec water was released from Almatti dam in Karnataka on Friday afternoon.
In northern India, rains continued in parts of Uttarakand 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.
(With agency inputs)