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16 dead in flood-hit Maharashtra, massive rescue efforts on

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Kolhapur/Sangli (Maharashtra), Aug 8 (IANS) At least 16 people have been killed, including four in Kolhapur and 12 in Sangli, as rains wreaked havoc in these districts for the past over one week, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said here on Thursday.

Along with his cabinet colleagues Chandrakanat Patil, Girish Mahajan and Eknath Shinde, Fadnavis today made an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas which also include Satara and Pune districts.

While four deaths are recorded in Kolhapur due to the rains in the past few days, at least 12 persons on Thursday drowned when a rescue boat capsized in Brahamnal village this morning. Fifteen people were saved and a search is on to trace bodies of others still missing, said Konkan Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar.

Earlier in the day, authorities put out the death toll as 26.

Fadnavis said as per preliminary information, the boat was deployed by the village panchayat to rescue people, but a branch of a submerged tree got entangle in its engine, causing it to lose balance, leading to the tragedy.

He said rescue efforts were continuing on a war footing. Fadnavis said over 10,000 rescue officials from 13 teams of NDRF from Punjab, Gujarat, Odisha, Goa, one State DRF, one column of Indian Army, 14 Navy teams, Coast Guard team and Air Force and local agencies are engaged in rescuing people trapped in the flood waters in the two districts.

Another two Coast Guard teams are on their way to Kolhapur today, five Navy teams and two SDRF teams, while the state has sought five more NDRF teams, Fadnavis said.

“We are reaching out to the people. They should not panic. Wherever helicopters can go, they are being sent and more than 60 boats are deployed in all the affected regions,” Fadnavis said.

The CM said rescue works are hampered as water levels are not receding in most areas, he told mediapersons after the aerial survey.

“I spoke with Home Minister Amit Shah and also Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, and the latter has agreed to release 500,000 cusecs water from the Almatty Dam which will bring relief to waterlogging in Sangli,” Fadnavis said.

He said as per available information, 223 villages are still flooded and 18 villages are completely submerged in the affected areas.

Plus, another around 29,000 people are still marooned in different parts, 9,000 have been rescued so far, and another 97,000 moved out on their own to rescue camps. Around 38,000 flood victims have taken refuge in 152 relief camps set up by the government.

Around 3,900 homes have been damaged or destroyed, over 200,000 people are still without electricity and 390 water supply schemes are shut due to flood, and 67,000 hectares of farmlands have been ravaged, though the complete extent of the damage will be known only after the flood waters recede, he said.

Efforts are also being made to supply petrol-diesel in the affected areas, and if the national highways re-open by Friday, the work will be taken up in consultation with the oil marketing companies.

So far, over 1.35 lakh people have been rescued and shifted to safer locations in the affected regions and thousands more continued to remain marooned without food, drinking water, medicines, electricity, and other essentials.

People were also saved from several government and private hospitals where they were trapped due to water all around.

Fadnavis said medical teams are kept ready in Mumbai and will be dispatched to the affected areas as demanded by the local authorities as incessant rains have submerged large areas of land, fields, villages, towns and cities, hitting both road and rail traffic badly.

Efforts are on to clear the Pune-Bengaluru Highway to enable quicker movement of relief supplies to the regions, he added.

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