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Death toll in Maharashtra reaches 696

Source: PTI
Last updated on: July 29, 2005 21:56 IST
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Three days after devastating rainfall brought the country's commercial capital to a halt, life in Mumbai returned to normal on Friday while rescue operations continued in Thane and the worst-hit Raigad district of Maharashtra as the toll in monsoon fury crossed 696 in the state.

Mumbai and the suburbs bore the maximum brunt in the century's worst rainfall with about 400 deaths. In Thane district over 175 were killed while in Navi Mumbai and Raigad 110 rain-related deaths were reported, official sources said in Mumbai on Friday.

"The number may rise, specially in Mumbai and Thane," Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told reporters after an all-party meeting on the issue.

"We are tackling the situation as a national calamity," Deshmukh said, adding that the Disaster Management system needs to be improved in the state.

"Efforts will also be made to ensure that communication link in areas such as Mumbai do not break down in the event of such a situation," he said.

Describing the heavy rainfall in Mumbai as the 'rarest of rare', Deshmukh said, on the first day (July 26) south Mumbai recorded 70 mm rainfall.

"We are considering to provide 10 kg of rice and flour to the affected people," Deshmukh said.

Meanwhile, long-distance train services -- outbound and inbound -- on the Western Railway have resumed while on the Central Railway, all outbound trains have been cancelled till Saturday morning, railway sources said adding, suburban trains on Central line are running upto Kalyan.

Mumbai airport, which remained closed for three days after the runway was submerged in rainwater, has resumed both domestic and international flights on Friday, airport sources said.

Rescue operations at Saki Naka in north-west Mumbai where several people died in a massive landslide, are still on, fire brigade sources said adding, many more bodies are still feared trapped under the debris.

Rescue operations in landslide-hit Jui village in Raigad district continued throughout the day on Friday.

The situation in other parts of the state is improving with a little respite from the rains, state control room sources said.

In Nanded district, where Godavari river was flowing above the danger mark and submerged 20 villages around Nanded prompted 10,000 people living along the river bank to shift to safer places, flood water is receding on Friday and the relief work is on in full swing, Nanded district authorities said.

Four persons died in the district since July 26 while three persons were washed away, the authorities added.

The siituation in Pune and Kolhapur districts is also improving, they said adding, "However, we are taking still precaution."

Vehicular movement was restored on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the sources said adding, with less rain since Thursday, the other roads are being cleared.

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