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Indian rescuers find 27 dead and dozens are missing after rains cause landslide

Rescuers walk towards the site of a landslide in Raigad district, western Maharashtra state, India, Thursday, July 20, 2023. While some people are reported dead many others feared trapped under piles of debris.
Rafiq Maqbool
/
AP
Rescuers walk towards the site of a landslide in Raigad district, western Maharashtra state, India, Thursday, July 20, 2023. While some people are reported dead many others feared trapped under piles of debris.

NEW DELHI — Hundreds of rescuers have recovered 27 dead as they pushed on with a fourth day of searching for scores of people still missing after heavy monsoon rains triggered a massive landslide in a village in western India, an official said Sunday.

Seventy-eight people are still unaccounted for since the landslide hit Irshalwadi village on Wednesday night in Raigadh district, nearly 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Mumbai, the Maharashtra state capital.

At least 17 of 48 houses in the village were fully or partially buried under the debris, officials said.

Rescuers were mostly using rods and shovels. Heavy equipment like earth movers and excavators could not reach the village with no paved roads and a massive sludge around it, said Deepak Avadh, an official of the National Disaster Response Force. A dog squad was also deployed to detect any survivors.

From the base of the hill, it takes about 90 minutes to reach Irshalwadi by foot. Rainfall and a threat of more landslides caused the rescue operation to be suspended during the night, rescue agency said.

The dead included four children, the Press Trust of India news agency said, adding that 75 people have been rescued. Four people have been hospitalized.

India's weather department placed Maharashtra under alert as the state was lashed by incessant rains the past week. Local train service was disrupted at several places with water flowing inside stations and over tracks, media reported.

Record monsoon rains have killed more than 100 people in northern India over the last three weeks, officials said, as the downpours caused roads to cave in and homes to collapse.

India regularly experiences severe floods during the monsoon season, which runs between June and September and brings most of South Asia's annual rainfall. The rains are crucial for rain-fed crops planted during the season but often cause extensive damage.

Scientists say monsoons are becoming more erratic because of climate change, leading to frequent landslides and flash floods in India's Himalayan north.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press