Rescue workers in India faced challenging terrain and severe weather on Thursday as they sought for survivors of a landslide that killed at least five people in a Himalayan village after heavy rain wet the slopes, officials said.
A wave of high heat, wildfires, heavy rain, and flooding has inflicted devastation around the world in recent days, prompting new concerns about the rate of climate change.
The land gave way in the middle of the night in the remote hamlet of Irshalwadi, in the western state of Maharashtra, about 60 km (37 miles) from Mumbai, officials said.
“A total of 48 families lived there. Around 75 people have been evacuated and five people have died so far,” the state’s deputy chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, said on Twitter.
Initial reports said about 100 people were feared trapped under the debris and rescue workers were struggling in heavy rain to find survivors as relatives waited for news at the base of the mountain.
“The debris at some of the places is 10 to 29 feet deep,” S B Singh, an official with the National Disaster Response Force, which is in charge of the rescue, told the Indian Express newspaper.
“It is difficult to bring in heavy machinery to this place. It is a 2.8 km trek to reach the spot and we have to remove the debris manually which is likely to take a lot of time.”
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who was at the site, told reporters it was difficult to get an exact figure on the number of people trapped.
A landslide in a nearby village killed more than 80 people two years ago.
Incessant rain has closed schools, flooded roads and disrupted trains across Maharashtra, which is India’s richest state.
Schools and colleges in the financial capital of Mumbai were closed on Thursday. Some train services were suspended on Wednesday after rain lashed the city.
Several districts in the state recorded more than 100 mm of rain on Wednesday with more heavy showers expected, according to the weather department.
Flash floods, landslides, and accidents caused by heavy rain have killed more than 100 people in India since the onset of the monsoon season on June 1, mostly in the north which has seen 41% more rain than normal, the India Meteorological Department said.
This week, the Yamuna river reached the compound walls of the Taj Mahal for the first time in 45 years, submerging several historical monuments and gardens surrounding the 17th century, white-marble mausoleum.
In New Delhi, jammed flood gates and a broken drainage regulator let water from Yamuna flow into the city last week, inundating several areas including around the historic Red Fort, and Rajghat – a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.