RAIGAD, India (AP) — Rescue efforts resumed on Friday after an overnight halt in India’s western state of Maharashtra where a landslide triggered by torrential rain killed at least 16 people, and many more feared they were trapped under debris, officials said.
Dozens of trained rescuers and trekkers were deployed to find people trapped by the landslide, which happened late Wednesday night, deputy state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted. Harsh weather conditions hampered rescue efforts and authorities sent medical teams to help the injured, he added.
Search operations were suspended on Thursday evening due to heavy rain and the threat of further landslides in the dark, a statement from the National Disaster Response Force said.
While 75 people have been rescued, many more are still stranded, an official told the Press Trust of India news agency.
The landslide hit Irshalwadi village in Raigad district and buried 17 out of 50 houses there.
The hilly terrain made it difficult for the rescuers as the heavy rubble removal equipment could not be moved easily. From the base of the hill, it takes about 1.5 hours to reach Irshalwadi as it is not connected by paved roads.
India’s meteorological department has put Maharashtra on high alert as the state has been hit by unrelenting rains this week. The downpours disrupted the lives of many people in the state, including in the capital, Mumbai, where authorities closed schools on Thursday.
Local train services have been disrupted by water flowing inside stations and on tracks, local media reported.
Record monsoon rains have killed more than 100 people in northern India in the past two weeks, officials said, as downpours caused roads to collapse and houses to crumble.
Monsoon rains across the country have already brought about 2% more rainfall this year than normal, India’s meteorological agency said.
India regularly experiences severe flooding during the monsoon season, which runs from June to September and brings most of South Asia’s annual rainfall. Rains are crucial for seasonally planted rainfed crops but often cause significant damage.
Scientists say monsoons are becoming more erratic due to climate change and global warming, leading to frequent landslides and flash floods in the northern Indian Himalayas.