Pune: The rain wreaked havoc in coastal Konkan and western Maharashtra on Friday as at least 36 people lost their lives in two landslides in Mahad tehsil in Maharashtra’s Raigad district.
The rescue operations were on a war footing in afflicted districts amid several reports of rockfalls and landslips in mountainous areas across the State.
As per reports, around 30-35 houses were instantly buried when a major landslip occurred at Taiye village in Mahad late Thursday night. However, inclement weather, heavy rainfall, waterlogging, mobile network connectivity issues — thwarted rescue teams who struggled to clear strewn boulders and advance through damaged roads to the spot of the accident.
Expressing fears that the toll could rise further, Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar said 15-20 people were still not accounted for.
While the majority of the rescue operations were being carried out by locals, NDRF and SDRF teams could only reach the spot Friday morning.
Appealing to people to remain put in their houses, Raigad District Collector Nidhi Chaudhary said drinking water and food had been provided for those rescued in the Taliye incident.
Meanwhile, there were reports of two more people killed in a landslide in Satara district while seventeen are said to be trapped in a similar incident in Birmani village in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who held an emergency meeting to review the situation in the Konkan, assured that rescue operations were proceeding speedily and that the government’s priority was to save lives at any cost.
Our priority is to ensure that there is no loss of life. NDRF, Coastguard, SDRF and local teams have been mobilized on a war footing in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thackeray said.
He said rescue teams were facing enormous problems as at several places, roads had been utterly damaged or washed away by the floodwaters or rockfalls, especially in villages and hamlets in the mountainous tracts.
“The situation continues to remain grave as it was yesterday and will continue to be like this for the next couple of days, going by IMD warnings…at several points, NDRF teams have had to hew a path to reach the spot of accident… We are making all provisions to take care of those who have lost their houses in the rains. While nobody can estimate the extent of rainfall or predict landslides like this, we are combating the crisis despite the pandemic,” Mr Thackeray said.
While the Chief Minister said reports on casualties were filtering in only now, Wadettiwar estimated that at least 44 people lost their lives across the state in different incidents of landslips or being drowned in floodwaters.
Heavy showers continued to lash tehsils like Mahad throughout the day.