At least nine were killed and four missing after a boat, rescuing people in Maharashtra’s flooded Sangli district, overturned on Thursday, a district official told PTI. The boat, which capsized near Brahmanal village in Palus tehsil, was transporting 32 people to a safer location, said Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar.
“Nine bodies have been recovered so far,” Mhaisekar said. “Around 14 to 15 people, who fell from the boat after it overturned, swam to safety.” Brahmanal village is situated on the banks of the Krishna river, which has been in spate due to torrential rain in the region.
Police and disaster management personnel were trying to locate those missing. Residents were using the boat to rescue locals affected due to the floods after heavy rain lashed the district this week.
Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said the boat tragedy could have been avoided. “More life jackets should be procured as it is risky to evacuate people from floods without the jackets,” he told PTI. Chavan added that Air Force choppers should also be used to evacuate people from the flood-affected areas. Vishwajeet Kadam, the Congress MLA from Palus, alleged that there was dearth of boats in the region.
The flood situation in western Maharashtra worsened on Wednesday, with the toll in rain-related incidents climbing to 16 in the five districts of Pune region. Heavy rains and flooding forced authorities to evacuate more than 1.5 lakh people from the districts of Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara. The National Disaster Response Force, the Army, the Navy and the Coast Guard also joined rescue efforts. Altogether 22 rescue teams are working in Kolhapur while 11 teams have been deployed in Sangli.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis conducted an aerial survey to review the flood situation in Sangli and Kolhapur on Thursday. Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured Fadnavis of all help from the Centre. However, Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik called the chief minister’s aerial survey “disaster tourism”, and accused the government of “waking up late” to the flood situation.
Meanwhile, Karnataka agreed to release five lakh cusec of water from Almatti dam on Krishna river. This will help the water levels in the flood-affected areas in Western Maharashtra to recede.