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India monsoon death toll hits 159; typhoon slams China

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Target Disaster Response Force personnel carry the body of a victim at the site of a landslide at Taliye, about 22km from Mahad city, India on July 24, 2021. AFP

India monsoon death toll hits 159; typhoon slams China

The death toll from flooding and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in India climbed to 159, officials said on July 25, with rescuers searching for dozens more missing, as a typhoon battered through eastern China.

India’s western coast has been inundated by torrential rains since July 22, with the India Meteorological Department warning of further downpours over the next few days.

Flooding and landslides are common during India’s treacherous monsoon season, which also often sees poorly constructed buildings buckle after days of non-stop rain.

Experts say climate change has caused the annual deluge to increase in frequency and intensity.

In Maharashtra state, 149 people have been killed, including more than 40 in a large landslide that hit the hillside village of Taliye some 250km southeast of Mumbai on July 22.

In parts of Chiplun city, water levels rose to nearly 6m on July 22 after 24 hours of uninterrupted rain. The water levels have since started to recede.

Eight patients at a local Covid-19 hospital also reportedly died after power supply to ventilators was cut off.

Some 230,000 people were evacuated across the state amid the torrid conditions. Rescuers were working in waist-deep mud to search for 100 people still missing with the help of excavators.

In neighbouring Goa, a woman was feared to have drowned from the flooding, officials said, in what Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said were the worst floods since 1982.

Further south in Karnataka state, the death toll rose to nine overnight, with four others missing, officials said.

Meanwhile in China, typhoon In-Fa uprooted trees and drenched communities in knee-deep water in parts of the east of the country, but there were no reports of major damage as it made landfall on July 25.

Sea, air and rail traffic had been shut down across a swathe of the coast centred on the major shipping port of Ningbo, where the weakening typhoon rumbled ashore around midday packing winds of up to 38m/s, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

The typhoon hit as the central province of Henan was still cleaning up after torrential downpours dumped a year’s worth of rain in just three days last week.

Government officials on July 25 added another five dead to the toll from the freak flooding in Henan, raising the total to 63.

In-Fa’s effects were also felt on July 25 in the metropolis of Shanghai, China’s largest city, with strong gusts of wind and steady but not heavy rainfall.

All inbound and outbound flights were cancelled on July 25 for the city’s two international airports, as were dozens of scheduled trains, while activity at the ports of Shanghai and Ningbo – two of the world’s largest – was also shut down.

The government announced that it would extend a suspension of railway services in and out of Shanghai through midday on July 26.

The meteorological administration said that after landfall In-Fa would weaken but continue to hover over a wide expanse of eastern China for days, ringing itself out and bringing heavy rainfall, possibly to areas still recovering from last week’s flooding.

Millions were affected by the Henan floods, with some trapped without fresh food or water for days, and economic losses have run into the billions of dollars.

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