Maharashtra flood toll climbs to 209, 8 untraced so far

As a massive operation got underway to clean up the mess and muck left behind by last week’s horrendous floods in western and coastal Maharashtra, the death toll climbed up from 192 to 209 on Tuesday, with another eight still reported missing, the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) said.

As many as 434,185 people have been evacuated and relocated to safer areas after their homes were submerged or badly damaged in the flood waters, which reached up to 20 feet high in some areas, with 1,351 villages directly affected by the rain fury.

The largest evacuation took place from western Maharashtra districts – Sangli (211,808), Kolhapur (161,564), Satara (49,149), and Pune (263), followed by Konkan districts – Thane (6,930), Sindhudurg (1,271), Ratnagiri (1,200), and Raigad (1,000), and a majority have been housed in 308 relief camps, the SDMA said.

At least 52 people injured in various incidents are undergoing treatment at various hospitals in Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur, while a few victims of hill-slides in Raigad have been admitted to specialised hospitals in Mumbai.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari went on a tour of the Raigad and Ratnagiri districts and after witnessing the disaster, sought immediate aid for the flood-hit people.

Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that thousands of homes, roads and huge agricultural lands have been destroyed.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has already indicated that a comprehensive relief package will be declared by Wednesday and help will be sought from Centre.

Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde announced the battered Chiplun town, an important tourist destination, will be fully redeveloped in a planned manner.

Though Raigad called off the rescue operations on Monday, efforts still continue to save people in the other districts, evacuating them to camps, providing them reaching food or medicine and other aid materials, said an official of the SDMA.

A total of 16 NDRF teams, down from 33 on Monday, plus 131 boats and 3 Indian Army teams are still in the field helping out the flood-hit people and even animals wherever possible.

State Energy Minister Dr Nitin Raut, on a tour of Raigad, said that efforts are underway on a war-footing to restore power supply in the affected districts.

In the past 6 days since July 22, many parts of the western and coastal regions witnessed unprecedented record rainfall resulting in over a dozen hillslides and landslips in different districts with a huge human toll.

With a majority of the big and small rivers, dams, reservoirs, lakes overfull and spilling out the excess waters, villages, towns and cities were flooded and scores of roads – 43 in Ratnagiri alone – in the regions are still closed for inter-district and inter-state vehicular movement, crippling movement of fuel, food and other essential supplies.