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India Landslides and floods from monsoon rains kill scores

NEW DELHI – Within seconds the scenic mountain valley looked like a war zone.

“Guys, we have to run! Said a man on Sunday filming the devastation unfolding in his hillside town in northern India, as a landslide triggered by relentless monsoon rains tumbled heavy rocks along the riverbank. ‘a steep slope.

At least nine people were killed when a rock hit their vehicle. Their deaths add to a toll of at least 164, including 100 missing, on the country’s west coast, where heavy rains have flooded entire towns and villages.

The monsoons of India have always arrived with fury. But the scenes of death and destruction unfolding in the country are still a reminder of the urgency of climate change, experts say. A warming climate means extreme precipitation in many parts of the world, scientists have said.

Record rains in central China and western Europe have killed dozens of people in recent weeks and displaced many more. Authorities in the Philippines evacuated thousands of residents on Saturday after a tropical storm flooded the capital, Manila, and neighboring provinces.

“The threat of sea level rise is something we often overlook and underestimate,” said Roxy Koll, climatologist in India and one of the authors of a study published last week on how whose global warming will make heat waves and cyclones more frequent. and more fierce in India.

“Climate change is a threat multiplier,” wrote the study’s authors, Mr. Koll and Chirag Dhara, assistant professor at Krea University in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh. “In the absence of rapid, enlightened and far-reaching mitigation and adaptation actions, the effects of climate change are likely to pose serious challenges to sustaining the country’s rapid economic growth.

The agrarian economy of India is heavily dependent on monsoon rains. Too little means drought, and too much can cause catastrophic flooding. Extreme rainfall washes away fertile topsoil, while droughts deplete groundwater supplies that have been declining rapidly in many parts of the country for years. Together they caused misery and death on Indian farms.

Heavy rains continued to hit the western state of Maharashtra over the weekend, where relief workers struggled to reach areas cut off by floods and landslides. Workers were digging in the mud and transporting people by boat to areas where water had reached the tops of houses.

Nearly 300,000 people were evacuated and thousands remained in relief camps, state officials said on Monday. There have been more than 250 deaths in the state linked to the monsoon season since it began last month.

Uddhav Thackeray, the top official in Maharashtra, said on twitter that his helicopter was unable to land due to “low visibility” as he attempted to visit flood-affected areas in Satara district.

India’s meteorological department is forecasting “fairly widespread to widespread rainfall” for the next two days in the northern, eastern and western parts of the country.

About 1,000 miles from Maharashtra in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, officials said Monday that at least 100 people were stranded after the landslide on the mountain side and that efforts to rescue continued.

Video footage showed heavy rocks knocking over a metal bridge. The rocks pounded the vehicles and fell into a nearby river, making giant splashes and exploding bomb-like sounds.

“The accident caused by a landslide in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, is very sad,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said said on twitter. “My sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. “

Mr. Modi announced compensation of 200,000 rupees, or over $ 2,500, to the families of the deceased.

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