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Published: 16:18, July 23, 2021 | Updated: 15:43, July 24, 2021
Heavy rain in India triggers floods, landslides; at least 125 dead
By Reuters
Published:16:18, July 23, 2021 Updated:15:43, July 24, 2021 By Reuters

In this handout photo taken on July 22, 2021, by Indian Air Force shows villages in low lying areas inundated with flood water after heavy monsoon rains in Ratnagiri, district of Maharashtra. (INDIAN AIR FORCE (IAF) / AFP)

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI - Rescue teams in India struggled through thick sludge and debris on Saturday to reach dozens of submerged homes as the death toll from landslides and accidents caused by torrential monsoon rain rose to 125.

Maharashtra state is being hit by the heaviest rain in July in four decades, experts say. Downpours lasting several days have severely affected the lives of hundreds of thousands, while major rivers are in danger of bursting their banks.

In Taliye, about 180 km (110 miles) southeast of the financial capital of Mumbai, the death toll rose to 42 with the recovery of four more bodies after landslides flattened most homes in the village, a senior Maharashtra government official said.

"About 40 people are still trapped. The possibility of rescuing them alive is thin as they've been trapped in mud for more than 36 hours," said the official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to talk to the media.

This handout picture taken on July 23, 2021 and released by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) shows debris of houses in Taliye village after a landslide in Mahad of Raigad district of Maharashtra. (NDRF / AFP)

Parts of India's west coast have received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rain, forcing authorities to move people out of vulnerable areas as they released water from dams about to overflow. The hill station of Mahabaleshwar recorded its highest ever rainfall - 60 cm in 24 hours.

Rescuers were searching for victims of landslides in four other places in the state, the official said.

"Around 90,000 people were rescued from flood affected areas," the Maharashtra government said in a statement, as authorities released water from overflowing dams.

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In this handout photo taken on July 23, 2021, by India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) shows NDRF personnel rescuing stranded villagers from low lying areas flooded after heavy monsoon rains in Chiplun district of Maharashtra. (INDIA'S NATIONAL DISASTER RESPONSE FORCE (NDRF) / AFP)

Thousands of trucks were stuck for more than 24 hours on a highway linking Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, with the road submerged in some places.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was in anguish over the loss of lives.

"The situation in Maharashtra due to heavy rains is being closely monitored and assistance is being provided to the affected," Modi said on Twitter on Friday.

In the southern state of Telangana, heavy rain caused flooding in the state capital of Hyderabad and other low-lying areas.

Indian environmentalists have warned that climate change and indiscriminate construction in fragile coastal regions could lead to more disasters.

"The rain fury that lashed Mahabaleshwar ... is a strong warning against any more tampering with the ecologically fragile Western Ghats," environment economist Devendra Sharma said on Twitter referring to the range of hills along India's west coast.

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