In a series of disasters, more than 100 people have been reportedly killed in a dozen hillslides, landslides, house-crashes and other incidents after torrential rains shook Raigad, Ratnagiri and Satara districts, with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard rushing to rescue the marooned populace, top officials said here on Friday.
In the season's worst tragedy, at least 50 people were buried alive in a hillslide at Taliye-Madhaliwadi village in Raigad, while another 50 are still feared trapped under the debris.
Besides, another 50-plus persons have perished in different rain-related incidents, including 15 in Poladpur (Raigad), 12 in Mirgaon (Satara), 11 in Khed (Ratnagiri), and in another half-a-dozen locations in Satara, and 4 in Mumbai.
Lt Gen J.S. NAIN, the GOC-in-C, Southern Army, said that the Indian Army has deployed 15 teams from Pune's Aundh Military Station and Bombay Engineering Group, while the Navy has deployed over 7 teams, and the IAF has deployed helicopters for transporting NDRF teams. The Indian Coast Guard has also deployed two units to rescue the marooned people.
According to eyewitnesses in Taliye-Madhiliwadi, an estimated 50-60m tall portion of a hillock broke loose and crashed onto around three dozen houses below, trapping a majority of the victims under the huge boulders, stones, trees, bushes and slush which hurtled down at full force.
Raigad MP Sunil Tatkare, his daugther and Minister of State Aditi Tatkare rushed to the tragedy scene along with other rescue teams as intermittent rains and floods coupled with debris, muck and loose soil continued to hamper the operations, amid fears that the toll could further go up.
"So far, 50 bodies have been recovered from Taliye-Madhiliwadi and search is on as many more are still feared buried under the debris," Sunil Tatkare told IANS from the tragedy site, indicating the toll may increase.
In all these incidents, an estimated 70-80 persons are still feared trapped in the debris and rubble with the NDRF, Army, Navy and local teams attempting to save them as rains continued to lash the region.
Expressing grief over the incident, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of each deceased person and free treatment for all the injured persons.
Besides Thackeray, state ministers Balasaheb Thorat, Vijay Wadettiwar, Aditya Thackeray, Sanjay Bansode, Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, DGP Sanjay Pandey and other top civil and police officials are monitoring the situation continuously.
The CM said that the flood situation in various degrees of seriousness prevails in Raigad, Ratnagiri, Palghar, Thane, Sindhudurg, Satara, Kolhapur and Sangli.
He also called upon the people in Sangli-Kolhapur to be extra vigilant as the Koyna Dam discharge has also started, while orders have been issued to evacuate all the flood victims, ensure their accommodation in temporary camps with food, water, medicines and other requirements.
In another heart-wrenching incident, at least 9 Covid-19 patients died after power supply to ICU ventilators suddenly snapped at a private hospital, prompting the CM to order the health department to take special precautions for the safety of Covid patients in all hospitals.
Boosting the rescue efforts of the armed forces, till now, 14 NDRF and 6 SDRF units, besides 8 more NDRF units coming from Odisha, and several SDRF units have been kept in reserve in these districts.
The Ratnagiri district administration has set up 4 shelters to house the flood victims, while 2,000 people have been put up in camps by the Raigad authorities. Twenty-two people trapped in a bus in Raigad were rescued, while an aerial survey by IAF helicopters on Friday afternoon revealed that the flood waters are gradually declining though the rains continue.
An important bridge connecting Chiplun-Mumbai on River Vashishta was washed away in the floods, creating massive traffic snarls with many people abandoning their big and small vehicles as flood waters swelled.
According to tentative estimates, over 2,000 big and small vehicles, including trucks, tempos, cars and scooters, were stuck or damaged in the floods and were seen piled up at various locations in the affected regions.
The power and communication departments are engaged in restoring power supply in many places which was either snapped or disconnected as a precaution, besides repairing the mobile towers to restore phone and internet services.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have spoken to Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and offered full help for the flood victims. Shah also met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to coordinate the rescue efforts through the armed forces.