India landslide toll jumps to 27, at least 50 missing

By AFP   July 22, 2023 | 10:47 pm PT
India landslide toll jumps to 27, at least 50 missing
In this handout photograph released by India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and taken on July 23, 2023, NDRF personnel search for victims at the site of a landslide at Irshalwadi village of Raigad district in Maharashtra state. Photo handed out via AFP
The death toll from a massive landslide in India's Maharashtra state jumped to 27 on Sunday, with at least 50 people still missing as rescue teams struggle in lashing rain, officials said.

The landslide was triggered by monsoon rains on Thursday, smashing into a village in Raigad district, a hilly and forested site about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Mumbai.

Emergency teams have been digging for bodies under the mounds of earth and rubble.

"We've so far counted 27 bodies, and about 50 to 60 people are still missing, but there are multiple challenges for rescue work at the site," Raigad official Yogesh Mhase told AFP on Sunday.

Mhase said the remote hamlet was about five kilometers from the nearest road.

"No heavy equipment can reach this site, we only have small machines and most work has to be done manually," he added.

"Non-stop heavy rains in the region are also making the entire operation much more challenging".

The top district official said he was not optimistic about finding survivors on the fourth day of the ongoing rescue.

Local media reports said that several families were entirely wiped out, while other survivors were the only ones left alive among their relatives.

India has been battered by rains since the start of the monsoon season in June, and flooding and landslides have killed scores of people.

Monsoon rains are vital to replenishing rivers and groundwater, but the deluge also causes widespread destruction every year.

Experts say climate change is increasing the number of extreme weather events around the world, with damming, deforestation and development projects in India exacerbating the human toll.

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