Maha flood wrath: Boat capsize toll rises to 17; 4 lakh evacuated

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With the recovery of five more bodies, the death toll in the boat capsize tragedy in Sangli district has gone up to 17, even as over four lakh people have so far been been evacuated from flood-affected parts of Maharashtra, officials said on Sunday.

More than five lakh cusec of water is being discharged from Almatti dam on the Krishna river in Karnataka to ease the flood situation in western Maharashtra.

Over 30 people have been killed in rain-related incidents in five districts of western Maharashtra in the last one week, including 17 who drowned when a boat capsized near Brahmanal village in Sangli on Thursday. “So far, 17 bodies have been recovered following the boat tragedy. Water has started receding in some areas of Sangli,” a district administration official said.

On Thursday, nine people drowned and as many others went missing when the boat capsized during a rescue operation. Three more bodies were recovered by Saturday and five more were found till Sunday, taking the toll in the incident to 17, he said. Heavy rains pounded Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Palghar, Ratnagiri, Raigad and Sindhudurg districts in the state in the last one week.

Around 3.78 lakh people were so far evacuated from the worst-hit Kolhapur and Sangli districts where water began to recede slowly on Saturday, another official said. “Total 4,24,333 people have so far been evacuated across the state. Of these, 2.33 lakh have been shifted to safer places from Kolhapur alone. A total of 761 villages in 69 tehsils are affected by floods,” he said.

In some areas of Kolhapur, food packets were being dropped by helicopters as the connecting roads there were still water-logged, he said. “The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed 29 teams, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF)-3, Coast Guard-16, Navy-41 and Army-21 in these 10 districts. They are rescuing people with the help of 211 boats,” he said.

Nearly 369 temporary shelters have been set up for those displaced by floods in these districts, he said. A team of 100 private doctors from Thane will soon be going to Sangli and Kolhapur to provide medical assistance. Apart from medicines, they will also be carrying clothes and blankets for the flood-hit people, he said.

An official from the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDCL) said the power meters damaged by floods in Kolhapur and Sangli will be replaced free of cost. “We have asked people not to switch on any device at their homes if water entered their power meters. The MSEDCL staff will inspect every affected house before restoring the power supply,” he said.

Meanwhile, around 5.3 lakh cusec of water was being released from the Almatti dam in Karnataka to ease the flood situation in Maharashtra, a water resources department official in Kolhapur said. The discharge from Koyna dam (in Satara) stood at 53,882 cusec as its catchment area was still experiencing torrential rains, he said. The catchment areas of nearly all dams in Kolhapur received over 100 mm rainfall in last 24 hours, he added.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis reviewed the rescue and relief operations in Sangli on Saturday. Addressing a press conference, Fadnavis attributed the flooding to “unprecedented” rainfall this monsoon, which he said was “more than double” of that in 2005 when massive floods were witnessed.