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Death toll in Maharashtra is 924

By By Ramola Talwar Badam in Mumbai
Last updated on: August 01, 2005 13:55 IST
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Deadly rains have killed 924 people in Maharashtra over a six-day period, authorities said on Monday, as renewed downpours impeded body-retrieval efforts in Mumbai and surrounding areas.

Mumbai residents were ordered to stay home for the second day in a row as heavy rains that began late on Sunday pounded Maharashtra.

Navy divers were deployed in low-lying areas to ferry marooned people to safety as floodwaters entered homes in the worst affected areas in Mumbai's northern suburbs and other parts of the inundated state.

"The death toll is expected to cross 1,000," said K Vatsa, Maharashtra's rehabilitation secretary, on Monday.

As many as 421 people were killed in Mumbai alone. Most of deaths were caused by landslides and flooding after a record 94 cm fell last Tuesday over 24 hours, cutting off the state from the rest of the country.

Schools and colleges remained closed on Monday and streets were deserted. Usually packed commuter trains were mostly empty, and rail authorities were monitoring the situation as renewed flooding threatened to submerge tracks.

"Trains are running, but they are running late. If the rains continue to be so heavy, we will have to stop (services)," said railway spokesman Shailendra Kumar. He added that long-distance train travel had been canceled.

Visibility at Mumbai airport has been fluctuating since morning. Jet Airways has curtailed 30% of its flights. It has cancelled 34 of its scheduled 144 flights on Monday. Air Sahara has cancelled its flights.

Health workers were deployed in Mumbai's suburbs to distribute medicine and disinfectants to guard against the spread of waterborne disease.

"We didn't sleep the whole night seeing the water level rise," said Shakuntala Nath, 68, standing outside her water-filled shanty home in Santa Cruz district. "Everything is wet; our beds, furniture, all our belongings. When will this stop, I wonder?"

Electricity was gradually being restored to many neighborhoods after angry residents demonstrated on Saturday demanding the restoration of tap water, power and the cleanup of garbage and decomposing animal carcasses.

Some 25,000 sheep and goats and 2,500 buffaloes drowned in Mumbai, officials said.

Terrible Tuesday: Mumbai copes with a calamity
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By Ramola Talwar Badam in Mumbai
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