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Maharashtra

Five killed, two injured as chartered plane crashes in Mumbai suburb

At least five persons including a pedestrian were killed and two injured when a small chartered plane crashed in the thickly populated suburb of Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai on Thursday, officials said.
 
Chartered plane crashes in Mumbai, 5 dead
 
 
At least five persons including a pedestrian were killed and two injured when a small chartered plane crashed in the thickly populated suburb of Ghatkopar in north-east Mumbai on Thursday, officials said.
 
Eyewitnesses said that the plane was seen hurtling down in the narrow Jeevadaya Lane area and crashed with a deafening sound before breaking into pieces and bursting into flames around 1.15 p.m. There were two pilots and as many engineers on board.
 
The fuselage had broken into several pieces and one piece was recovered at least 50 metres away while some other portions of the plane burnt in the premises of an under-construction building. The fire was brought under control within half an hour by the fire brigade.
 
The aircraft's crucial Flight Data Recorder or Black Box was recovered.
 
A local passer-by in the vicinity of the crash was burnt fatally when some burning ATF fuel from the aircraft fell on him, said an eyewitness who was among the first to reach the spot.
 
The cause of the crash is not known and it occurred in the compound of the under construction Jagruti apartments, thereby averting a potentially major disaster.
 
There are usually at least four dozen labourers working on the premises but they had taken a lunch break when the aircraft hurtled there, creating a crater by its impact.
 
Aviation expert and Executive Airways Managing Director Pradeep Thampi said the aircraft was a 30-year-old King Air C-90, purchased from the Uttar Pradesh government by private company UY Aviation Pvt Ltd in Mumbai around a couple of years ago.
 
"Its call sign was VT-UPZ and it was a regular 12-seater on a test flight. The tragedy has claimed the pilot, co-pilot and two engineers. We cannot say immediately what may have led to the sudden crash," Thampi told IANS.
 
An Uttar Pradesh government spokesperson confirmed that the Mumbai-based UY Aviation Pvt Ltd had bought the aircraft a few years ago.
 
Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, who hails from Mumbai, expressed "deep shock" over the tragedy and directed the ministry officials concerned to rush to the accident site and provide all assistance possible.
 
Prabhu said he has ordered the Director-General of Civil Aviation to conduct an investigation into the crash and a team has left for the spot for a preliminary probe.
 
Mumbai Police, fire brigade, disaster relief agencies, besides local BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, legislators and others are at the site and further details of the victim crew members and pedestrians are awaited.
 
IANS
 
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16 dead, 15 injured, several trapped as five-storeyed building collapses in Mumbai

At least 16 people died and 15 others suffered injuries when an old, dilapidated five-storeyed building collapsed in the Bhendi Bazaar area, near J J Junction, in south Mumbai here this morning, official sources said.
 
16 dead, 15 injured in Mumbai building collapse
At least 16 people died and 15 others suffered injuries when an old, dilapidated five-storeyed building collapsed in the Bhendi Bazaar area, near J J Junction, in south Mumbai here this morning, official sources said.
 
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Assistant Commissioner J S Ghegadmal told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene that 31 victims had been extricated from the debris, of whom 16 were found dead.
 
The injured were rushed to the nearby J. J. Hospital, where the condition of some of them was stated to be serious, sources said.
 
With several more people feared trapped under the tonnes of debris, scores of men from the Mumbai Fire Brigade, the Municipal Corporation, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and local residents were engaged in massive search and rescue efforts.
 
Cranes, gas cutters and other equipment were being used to clear the debris and cut through the mangled steel and concrete to reach the victims and look for possible survivors.
 
The structure was more than a hundred years old, sources said. It was locted in a heavily congested area in south Mumbai's C Ward, and rescue teams with their big vehicles and heavy equipment had a tough time reaching the spot.
 
The building had a playschool on the premises which would have opened at 10 am as usual. However, the building came down at about 8.30 am, much before the children were scheduled to arrive.
 
This is the third major incident of building collapse in the metropolis in recent weeks. On July 25, at least 17 people died and 11 others suffered injuries when a four-storeyed residential building collapsed in the suburban area of Ghatkopar.
 
On August 26, six people lost their lives when a part of a seven-storeyed under-construction building collapsed at Chandivali while some unauthorised portions of the structure were being demolished.
 
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Municipal officials said they received a call about the collapse of the building around 8.40 am and the fire brigade was immediately rushed to the spot. There was no immediate word on the number of people living in the building and how many of them were trapped under the debris. Police have cordoned off the area to facilitate the smooth conduct of the search and rescue operations.
 
The incident has come two days after Mumbai experienced its heaviest rainfall since the July 2005 floods.
 
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief over the loss of lives in the incient and is personally monitoring the situation.
 
He has ordered a detailed inquiry into the incident by a committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Housing).
 
Mr. Fadnavis has asked the Municipal Commissioner to submit a detailed report on the tragedy. He also asked the Municipal Commissioner to focus on ensuring immediate medical assistance to the injured persons. State Minister Subhash Desai visited the spot and later briefed Mr. Fadnavis about the situation.
 
Civic officials said the building had been declared unsafe for living six years ago. The residents had been served with evacuation notices in 2011 and ordered to vacate the building to enable redevelopment of the area under the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) project.
 
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16 dead, 14 injured in major fire at ammunition depot in Maharashtra

At least 22 defence personnel died and 14 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of Tuesday and triggered huge explosions at one of India's biggest ammunition depots at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
 
16 dead, 14 injured in ammunition depot fire in Wardha
At least 16 people died and 14 others suffered injuries in a major fire that broke out in the early hours of today and triggered huge explosions at one of India's biggest ammunition depots at Pulgoan in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
 
Wardha district officials said the injured had been admitted to hospitals in Wardha town, about 30 km from Pulgaon, for treatment, official sources said.
 
The massive fire and the explosions that followed lit up the night sky in the town, located about 100 km from Nagpur.
 
The fire broke out in the Central Ammunition Depot around 1.30 am today and was brought under control by around 6 am today, they said.
 
The cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained and would be established only after an inquiry, they said.
 
The sources said families living in accommodation near the depot were evacuated to safer places as a precautionary measure.
 
Fire brigade personnel worked throughout the night to bring the blaze under control.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the fire.
 
“Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter
 
"I pray that those who are injured recover quickly," he said, adding that he had asked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to rush to the spot and take stock of the situation. 
 
Chief of Army Staff Gen Dalbir Singh is also rushing to Wardha for an assessment of the situation, the sources added.
 
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ED grills Raj Thackeray for over 8 hours

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) grilled Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray for over eight hours in a decade-old money-laundering case involving realty deals and IL&FS here on Thursday.
 
Thackeray, who stepped inside the ED offices at Ballard Pier in south Mumbai around 11.15 a.m., finally stepped out at 8.15 p.m., even as his wife Sharmila, daughter Urvashi, and son Amit waited outside to receive him.
 
Looking weary and grim, Thackeray calmly walked out of the ED, waved once to the crowds, stepped inside his car without interacting with anybody, and drove to his home near Shivaji Park.
 
Party office-bearers said it is not immediately clear whether he would be summoned again in the matter or this was the last meeting with the ED.
 
Thackeray was provided a police escort with tight security en route his home and the ED office.
 
While he was subjected to questioning by the ED, his family members waited at the nearby Grand Hotel.
 
Anticipating his release from the ED, around 6 p.m., his family members were permitted to wait with their vehicle opposite the ED building, though other relatives, party workers and media were kept at bay throughout the day by the police.
 
Among other things, the ED is probing alleged irregularities pertaining to loans and equity investments worth over Rs 450 crore in IL&FS in the Kohinoor CTNL, a realty company, which is developing the posh Kohinoor Square Towers in the prime Dadar area.
 
The ED had sent notices to Thackeray, his former business partners Unmesh Joshi - the son of ex-Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, and Rajan Shirodkar, last Sunday, creating a flutter in political circles.
 
While Joshi and Shirodkar have been grilled repeatedly by the ED earlier this week, it was Thackeray's turn on Thursday.
 
The interrogation of Thackeray was reportedly to corroborate the statements and evidences provided by Joshi and Shirodkar, according to party leaders.
 
However, as a frenzy built up among MNS activists all over the state with apprehensions of a law and order problem, Thackeray on Tuesday declared that he would "honour the ED summons" as he had always done in the past to court notices.
 
A day later (on Wednesday), he again issued an appeal to his followers not to go to the ED office or create any law and order problems whatever be the provocations.
 
The ruling ally, Shiv Sena, and all Maharashtra opposition parties like Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Aam Aadmi Party and others have come out in support of Thackeray, terming the ED move as "vendetta and witch-hunting".
 
Both Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, estranged cousin of the MNS chief, and Sena MP Sanjay Raut have openly come out in support of Raj Thackeray.
 
"Uddhav Thackeray has already expressed his views on this. What is important is that Raj Thackeray has appeared before the authorities (ED). The Thackerays enjoy strong family bonding," Raut said.
 
On Wednesday, Uddhav said he didn't expect anything would come out of the ED questioning of his cousin.
 
Not taking chances, the Mumbai Police imposed prohibitory orders in some pockets in the city, road blocks, barricades, traffic diversions, along with a large number of personnel and a dog squad.
 
The day started with a crackdown on several MNS activists, including party spokesperson Sandip Deshpande who was detained and later taken to the Shivaji Park Police Station, other activists were not allowed to leave their homes.
 
Strongly protesting his detention, Deshpande termed it as "high-handed action" by the police.
 
Other activists protested silently by sporting black tee-shirts with the slogan "EDiot Hitler" and the 'Swastika' symbol painted on them, as thousands of supporters came to Mumbai from all over Maharashtra to express solidarity with their party chief.
 
Late on Wednesday, the MNS activists were served police notices warning them against creating any law and order issues before Thackeray's appearance before the ED.
 
IANS
 

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ED summons Raj Thackeray, opposition slams move

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The Enforcement Directorate on Monday grilled the son of former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi in an IL&FS related case and also summoned Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray for questioning.
 
While the opposition slammed the ED's move, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis denied any knowledge of the development, saying the ED functions independently.
 
"If they have not committed any wrong, why should they be worried about it?" he asked.
 
While Joshi's son Unmesh Joshi was summoned by the ED on Monday, Thackeray, his former business partner in realty firm Kohinoor CTNL, has been ordered to appear before it on August 22.
 
Joshi appeared before the ED on Monday morning and was grilled for over eight hours before he stepped out this evening. Shortly before entering the ED office, he commented: "I will fully cooperate with the ED. Let me understand the issue first."
 
Manohar Joshi, a senior leader of ruling NDA ally Shiv Sena and former Maharashtra Chief Minister, wondered if the ED notice arose out of some "confusion". He also hinted at meeting the CM over the issue.
 
State Congress President Balasaheb Thorat said: "This is nothing but bulldozing tactics by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government against the Opposition. Thackeray had raised several pertinent issues before the Lok Sabha elections and is now being targeted." 
 
Instead of tackling burning issues like inflation, unemployment, the economic crisis and farmers' problems, the government was adopting "dictatorial tactics" to silence its critics, he added.
 
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)'s Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said Thackeray had exposed the BJP-Sena during the election campaign and now he has been slapped with an ED notice.
 
"Speak out against us and you get an ED notice. What kind of dirty politics is being played?" asked Munde, vowing that the people of the state will make the BJP-Sena bite the dust in the upcoming Assembly elections.
 
"Narendra Modi is the new Hitler. Why are no BJP leaders being probed?" asked MNS spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande.
 
Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan chief Raju Shetti termed the ED move against Thackeray a 'witchhunt' for criticising the Lok Sabha elections results and launching a campaign against Electronic Voting Machines (EVM).
 
"Anybody who attacks the government faces repercussions from the ED and the Income Tax Department. They are browbeaten but it will have no effect," he said.
 

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Squash: Top seed Urwashi enters quarters; Baitha upsets Ranjit

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Top seed Urwashi Joshi of Maharashtra, playing her first game of the tournament, overcame a shaky start to defeat unseeded Amita Gondi of Telangana 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 and advance to the quarter-finals of the 44th Maharashtra State Senior Open Squash Tournament at the Bombay Gymkhana Squash Courts here on Sunday.
 
Second seed Tanvi Khanna of Delhi outplayed unseeded Subhadra Sony 11-1, 11-0, 11-0 to advance to the quarter-finals. 
 
Meanwhile, Nikita Agarwal of Maharashtra, who is seeded in the [5/8] bracket was made to work hard for her win against unseeded state-mate Aakanksha Yadav. After losing the first two games tamely, Aakanksha raised her game to take the next two games and level the scores. Nikita managed to pull herself back to take the last game 11-5 and the match 11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 8-11, 11-5 to advance to the quarter-finals.
 
In the Men’s Open, junior Yash Fadte and Rahul Baitha soldiered on to make it to the quarter-finals. While Yash Fadte made short work of an unseeded Parth Bhatia, Rahul Baitha upset an higher-ranked Ranjit Singh of Services 11-1, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 to advance to the quarters. Top seeds Mahesh Mangaonkar and Abhishek Pradhan remain strong contenders for the title as they notched straight games wins to blaze into the quarters.        
Results:
 
Women’s Open Pre-Quarters:               
           
Urwashi Joshi [1] bt Amita Gondi 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4; Yoshna Singh [5/8] bt Prapti Salunkhe 11-3, 11-7, 11-3; Aakanksha Rao [5/8] bt Sano Singhi 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 Sachika Balvani [3/4] bt Anannya Morey 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5; Radhika Rathore [5/8] bt Bijali Darvada 11-5, 11-3, 11-2; Nikita Agarwal [5/8] bt Aakanksha Yadav 11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 8-11, 11-5; Tanvi Khanna [2] bt Subhadra K Sony 11-1, 11-0, 11-0                                                    
 
Men’s Open Pre –Quarters:
 
Mahesh Mangaonkar [1] bt Anuj Unadkat [9/16] 11-5, 12-10, 11-2; Yash Fadte [5/8] bt Parth Bhatia 11-8,11-5, 11-4; Naveen Jangra [9/16] bt Abhinav Sinha [5/8] 11-6, 8-11 11-3, 11-8  ; Abhishek Agarwal [3/4] bt Aishwary Singh [9/16] 3-11, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8; Rahul Baitha [9/16] bt Ranjit Singh [5/8]11-1, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9; Gaurav Nandrajog [5/8] bt Sandeep Jangra [9/16] 11-8, 11-3, 5-11, 11-9; Abhishek Pradhan [2] bt Vaibhav Chauhan [17/32] 12-10, 11-1, 11-3; Abhay Singh [3/4] bt Siddharth Phutela [9/16] 11-2, 11-7, 11-5
 
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11 killed in Maharashtra road accident

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Eleven people were killed and 23 injured in a head-on collision between a container truck and a state transport bus, police said here on Monday.
 
The crash occurred late on Sunday near Neemgul village, according to Dhule Control Room official A. L. Patil.
 
"The bus was headed to Aurangabad when the collision occurred on the Shahada-Dondaiche Road. The drivers of both vehicles were killed," Patil told IANS.
 
The toll was expected to increase as the condition of at least three was said to be serious.
 
IANS
  
 

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Maharashtra flood toll zooms to 54, Sangli worst-hit

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The death toll in the recent Maharashtra floods has shot up to 54 in the Pune division while another four people are still missing, Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar said here on Friday.
 
The worst-hit is Sangli district accounting for 26 deaths, followed by Kolhapur with 10, Satara 8, Pune 9 and Solapur 1. Two people are still missing in Kolhapur and one each in Sangli and Pune districts.
 
The torrential rain and the resultant floods have caused huge damage to properties with a staggering 19,702 homes either destroyed or damaged.
 
While 1169 have been completely razed, another 18,533 homes are partly damaged in Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara and Pune, Mhaiskar said.
 
Over 713,000 people from 473 villages have been shifted to 245 temporary shelters erected by the district administrations, he added.
 
In Sangli, 305,957 people from 104 marooned villages have been shifted to safer locations and housed in 64 temporary camps, while in Kolhapur, 407,134 people from 369 submerged villages are housed in 181 camps.
 
The floods have taken a huge toll of farm animals as well. 
 
As many as 7,847 cattle including cows, bulls and buffaloes have perished in the flood waters. 
 
Rescue work is still underway with 15 teams comprising 323 personnel from various agencies deploying 39 boats in Sangli and Kolhapur as most of the flood waters have drained off.
 
In order to prevent an outbreak of epidemics, the government has deployed around 478 medical teams in Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara districts.
 
However, road transportation is still an issue with 10 out of 47 important roads still remaining shut for traffic in Sangli and in Kolhapur. Sixty five roads have been opened out of 88 which were closed during the floods.
 
Five villages of Shirol in Kolhapur were completely cut-off during the floods, but 20,500 people from there have been rescued.
 
As per the orders of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the local administration has distributed Rs 5000 to each of 33,775 families, totalling Rs 16.89 crore.
 
In Sangli, out of 329 ATMs of various banks, 229 are operational, and in Kolhapur out of 647 ATMs, 390 are now functioning. Work is going on to restore the remaining 357 ATMs which are still dead.
 
Power connections to 297,586 non-agriculture consumers have already been restored and 60 teams of electrical experts from various districts are working to bring normal power supply in the affected regions, said Mhaiskar.
 
IANS
 

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Minor earthquake recorded in Palghar region of Maharashtra

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Palghar region of Maharashtra early this morning.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 20.0°N and 72.8°E, occurred at 0538 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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After floods, Maharashtra launches relief, rehab works

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After the 12-day rescue operations, which are still on in some pockets, the task of providing relief and rehabilitation has been launched in Sangli, Kolhapur and surrounding areas as the skies cleared. The flood toll increased to 43 on Monday.
 
The state has requested the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to direct banks to make their dead ATMs functional at the earliest. Of the 647 ATMs in the flood-hit area, 334 are still non-functional. The remaining 313 are reported to be working with an estimated cash availability of Rs 25 crore.
 
The State Chief Secretary is in touch with the RBI and other banks, including SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar, to ensure early restoration of ATMs and cash availability for peoples' immediate needs and to make emergency purchases.
 
The state and private groups have rushed in large quantities of medicines to prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases. The supply of chlorine tablets to purify drinking water, DDT and bleaching powders for cleaning of homes and neighbourhood has been stepped up.
 
While six people were still missing, nearly 475,000 were shifted to 596 temporary camps after the one of the worst floods in recent times, Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar said on Monday.
 
Power supply is a concern with 263,282 consumers and 143,047 farmers going without power as around 16,000 transformers were damaged or destroyed. According to Mhaiskar, supply has been restored in stages to 136,303 consumers and 34,179 farmers and efforts are being made to revive power to the rest.
 
At present, 105 teams of the army, navy, air force, NDRF, SDRF, district, municipal and local bodies with 164 boats are engaged in rescue operation.
 
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said 761 villages in the two districts were badly hit. Around 147 big and small roads, 66 bridges, besides interior and rural roads were still shut for traffic.
 
Fadnavis is in touch with the central government for relief and rehabilitation measures.
 
Next week, the state government is likely to seek a major compensation package from the Centre, particularly since the Assembly elections are due after two months.
 
In a positive step, the Railways have waived freight charges for relief materials on way to flood-hit regions in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. "No freight charges will be levied on relief material sent to the flood-affected Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra. We urge you to help us in this effort and send as much relief material as possible, which we will transport for free," Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.
 
Though food and clothes have reached in large quantities, an important requirement is sanitary napkins for women and girls, said local NGOs.
 
RTS LifeCare India's Tushir Choudhary from Mumbai and Bhumata Bhagini Brigade chief Trupti Desai from Pune told IANS they "have rushed 10,000 sanitary pads to Kolhapur and arranging for more for women in Sangli and Satara".
 
"The students of the DY Patil College in Pune responded to our calls and have collected the sanitary pads. We are getting more and will ensure that our sisters will not have to suffer in any manner," Desai told IANS.
 
Hundreds of trucks and tempos laden with goods, bound for different parts of the state and outside, that were stranded for nearly 12 days, have started moving towards their destinations as the waters started receding the highways were declared safe.
 
As the rains stopped, the receding flood waters revealed the ravage with mud and muck running one-to-three feet deep, fallen trees, rotting carcasses of big and small animals, fowl, thousands of big and small vehicles, two-wheelers damaged badly or destroyed lining the roads.
 
Fadnavis has asked the district administration and half a dozen ministers camping there to make available all required machinery to clean the flood-hit areas and coordinate efforts of the government and NGOs.
 
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sent a second team of doctors, plus cleaners, sweepers, pest control experts to help sanitize the flood-hit areas for the local to return home safely, with BMC Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi camping there to coordinate the efforts.
 
IANS

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Maharashtra flood havoc: 3.78 lakh people in camps

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A staggering 3.78 lakh people have been shifted to 432 temporary relief camps set up by the Maharashtra government in flood-hit Sangli, Kolhapur and Satara districts, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said here on Saturday.
 
"This year's rainfall has been unprecedented and massive. In 2005, Sangli got 217 per cent of average rain in 31 days, but this year it is 758 per cent in just 9 days. Kolhapur got 159 per cent of average rainfall in 2005 in a month, but this year it is 480 per cent in 9 days," Fadnavis told media persons, drawing a comparison with the great floods of July 2005.
 
The Koyna Dam, with its reservoir spread across 890 sq km and a capacity of 100 TMC, was filled up by half or more than 50 TMC in only nine days this year.
 
On the ongoing rescue efforts for people still stranded even as floodwaters have slowly started receding, Fadnavis said that an 15 additional teams of the Indian Navy from Vishakhpatnam have reached Kolhapur.
 
They have joined the three State Disaster Response Force, 23 National Disaster Response Force, 26 Indian Navy, 11 Indian Coast Guard, and eight Indian Army teams which are already engaged in rescue work in the two districts, said an official spokesperson in Mumbai.
 
A 30-member medical team of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) left for Kolhapur, the Mumbai Dabbawalas have launched rehab efforts by seeking donations from people in cash/kind, besides many other private organisations, NGOs, social groups, religious bodies, and others have also started similar efforts.
 
A total of 37 teams of various agencies with 95 boats are active in Sangli, and another 38 teams with 74 boats are engaged in rescue work in Kolhapur, besides 302 medical teams in the three districts (including Satara), said Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar.
 
However, nearly 2.97 lakh households still remain without power, including 1,378 in Pune and 22,613 in Solapur, but work to restore electric connections is on a war-footing, he said.
 
In the two districts, 300 big and small roads and bridges are still blocked due to floods, boulder crashes or landslides, and the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has cancelled 29,517 services in Kolhapur on 31 routes and 8,060 services on 43 routes in Sangli.
 
Schools, colleges, private and most government offices, business and commercial institutions remained closed since the past one week and it is still not clear when they will resume.
 
Fadnavis also assured that the Maharashtra government is getting all assistance from the Centre and urged people not to panic and wait for help which is being sent to them.
 
As per preliminary surveys, around 27,500 hectares of agriculture has been affected, more than 484 kms of roads have been damaged and 2,615 power transformers have been damaged partly or fully.
 
He said that the assistance to the flood-hit people, which was earlier Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000, has been increased to Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000, and the aid will be disbursed in cash to them.
 
Similarly, the compensation figure of Rs 1,50,000 to kin of deceased persons has been increased to Rs 5,00,000, for handicapped persons from Rs 43,000 to Rs 2,00,000, and for damaged houses from Rs 60,000 to Rs 1,00,000, Fadnavis said.
 
Farmers shall be given assistance of Rs 13,000 per hectares to remove silt accumulated on the farmlands so as to get ready for the next farming season.
 
Fadnavis appealed to political parties not to politicise the massive flood emergency which has hit the state and said all must stand up to help the flood victims.
 
IANS
 

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16 dead in flood-hit Maharashtra, massive rescue efforts on

A child being rescued in Maharashtra's flood-affected Kolhapur, on August 8, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A child being rescued in Maharashtra's flood-affected Kolhapur, on August 8, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
At least 16 people have been killed, including four in Kolhapur and 12 in Sangli, as rains wreaked havoc in these districts in the past one week, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said here on Thursday.
 
Along with his cabinet colleagues Chandrakant Patil, Girish Mahajan and Eknath Shinde, Fadnavis today made an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas which also include Satara and Pune districts.
 
While four deaths have been recorded in Kolhapur due to the rains in the past few days, at least 12 persons on Thursday drowned when a rescue boat capsized in Brahamnal village this morning. Fifteen people were saved and a search is on to trace bodies of others still missing, said Konkan Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar.
 
Earlier in the day, authorities put out the death toll as 26. 
 
Fadnavis said as per preliminary information, the boat was deployed by the village panchayat to rescue people, but a branch of a submerged tree got entangled in its engine, causing it to lose balance, leading to the tragedy.
 
He said rescue efforts were continuing on a war footing. Fadnavis said over 10,000 rescue officials from 13 teams of NDRF from Punjab, Gujarat, Odisha, Goa, one State DRF, one column of Indian Army, 14 Navy teams, Coast Guard team and Air Force and local agencies are engaged in rescuing people trapped in the flood waters in the two districts. 
 
Another two Coast Guard teams are on their way to Kolhapur today, as are five Navy teams and two SDRF teams, while the state has sought five more NDRF teams, Fadnavis said.
 
"We are reaching out to the people. They should not panic. Wherever helicopters can go, they are being sent and more than 60 boats are deployed in all the affected regions," Fadnavis said.
 
The CM said rescue works are hampered as water levels are not receding in most areas, he told media persons after the aerial survey.
 
"I spoke with Home Minister Amit Shah and also Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa, and the latter has agreed to release 500,000 cusecs water from the Almatty Dam which will bring relief to waterlogging in Sangli," Fadnavis said.
 
He said as per available information, 223 villages are still flooded and 18 villages are completely submerged in the affected areas.
 
Plus, another around 29,000 people are still marooned in different parts, 9,000 have been rescued so far, and another 97,000 moved out on their own to rescue camps. Around 38,000 flood victims have taken refuge in 152 relief camps set up by the government.
 
Around 3,900 homes have been damaged or destroyed, over 200,000 people are still without electricity and 390 water supply schemes are shut due to flood, and 67,000 hectares of farmlands have been ravaged, though the complete extent of the damage will be known only after the flood waters recede, he said.
 
Efforts are also being made to supply petrol and diesel in the affected areas, and if the national highways re-open by Friday, the work will be taken up in consultation with the oil marketing companies.
 
So far, over 1.35 lakh people have been rescued and shifted to safer locations in the affected regions and thousands more continued to remain marooned without food, drinking water, medicines, electricity, and other essentials.
 
People were also saved from several government and private hospitals where they were trapped due to water all around.
 
Fadnavis said medical teams are kept ready in Mumbai and will be dispatched to the affected areas as demanded by the local authorities as incessant rains have submerged large areas of land, fields, villages, towns and cities, hitting both road and rail traffic badly.
 
Efforts are on to clear the Pune-Bengaluru highway to enable quicker movement of relief supplies to the regions, he added.
 
IANS

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26 dead in flood-ravaged Kolhapur, Sangli: Fadnavis

NDRF personnel carrying out rescue operations in Maharashtra's flood-affected Nashik on August 5, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
NDRF personnel carrying out rescue operations in Maharashtra's flood-affected Nashik on August 5, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
At least 26 people have been killed, including 14 in Kolhapur and 12 in Sangli where a rescue boat capsized, as rains wreaked massive havoc in these Maharashtra districts over the past week, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said here on Thursday.
 
Fadnavis was talking to reporters after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas which also include Satara and Pune district, along with his cabinet colleagues Chandrakanat Patil, Girish Mahajan and Eknath Shinde.
 
He said that "the situation is very grim, and a national calamity would be declared in the region at the appropriate time".
 
While 14 deaths were recorded in Kolhapur due to the rains in the past few days, at least 12 persons drowned when a rescue boat capsized in Brahamnal village of Sangli this morning.
 
Earlier Konkan Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar said nine people were killed when the boat carrying around 30 villagers lost balance and overturned leading to the tragedy. While 15 people were saved, a search is on to trace others still missing in the floodwaters.
 
The Chief Minister said that warlike rescue efforts have been launched with over 10,000 personnel, from 13 National Disaster Response Force teams, one of the State Disaster Response Force, a column of Indian Army, 14 Navy teams, a Coast Guard team and the Air Force and local agencies engaged in rescuing people trapped in the floodwaters in the two districts. 
 
Another two Coast Guard teams were on their way to Kolhapur on Thursday along with five Navy teams and two SDRF teams, while the state has sought five more NDRF teams, Fadnavis said.
 
He said rescue works were hampered as the water levels were yet to recede in most areas. He spoke with Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa for the third time this week and the latter has agreed to release 500,000 cusecs water from the Almatty Dam which will reduce waterlogging in Sangli.
 
So far, over 1.35 lakh people have been rescued and shifted to safer locations in the affected regions even as thousands more continued to remain marooned without food, drinking water, medicines, electricity, and other essentials.
 
People were also saved from several government and private hospitals where they were trapped due to water all around.
 
Fadnavis said medicals teams are ready in Mumbai and will be dispatched to the affected areas as demanded by the local authorities as incessant rains have submerged large areas of land, fields, villages, towns and cities, hitting both road and rail traffic badly.
 
Efforts are on to clear the Pune-Bengaluru highway to enable quicker movement of relief supplies and manpower to the regions, he added.
 
IANS
 

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Army steps up flood relief and rescue efforts Maharashtra, Karnataka

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With the flood situation in Maharashtra and Karnataka continuing to be of concern due to incessant and heavy spells of rain and release of water from major reservoirs over the last few days, the Indian Army has stepped up its assistance of the state authorities in relief and rescue operations.
 
As on August 7, a total of 16 columns and 12 Engineer Task Forces comprising almost 1000 Army personnel have been employed in Belgaum, Bagalkot and Raichur districts of Karnataka and Raigad, Kohlapur and Sangli districts of Maharashtra to carry out flood relief operations, an official press release said here on Wednesday.
 
A total of around 500 persons have been rescued, provided medical aid and distributed with food packets. The rescue operations by Army personnel are presently underway in the villages of Birwadi and Asankoli in Raigad district, Mouje Digraj, Haripur and Nandre village of Sangli and Kohlapur district.  More than 1200 – 1300 people are reported to be stranded in these villages. 
 
Despite inclement weather and continuous rain in the region, all efforts are being made to evacuate the villagers along with NDRF and civil administration, the Ministry of Defence said in a press release.
 
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5 dead in Maharashtra rains, IAF, NDRF rescue villagers

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At least five persons were killed in Mumbai and Satara as rains continued to batter large parts of Maharashtra, especially the coastal Konkan region, on Sunday, hitting train services badly. Helicopters rescued 73 people in Thane and boats were deployed to rescue around 400 people stranded in Mumbai suburbs, officials said.
 
In the state capital, a woman and her son were killed due to electrocution in Santacruz east and a youth was washed away in Dharavi while two persons from Pune drowned in a waterfall in Satara after their vehicle hit a barricade and fell into a flooded drain at Babhalnala early on Sunday.
 
Following incessant overnight rains, water seeped into many homes in Kranti Nagar, Indira Nagar, Jarimari, Shankarnagar and Bail-bazar areas of Kurla suburb and two teams of the NDRF deployed rubber boats to rescue around 400 residents stranded there.
 
"They have been temporarily shifted to Bazarwad Municipal School and other schools. Congress activists have also made arrangements for food, water and medical help as required," local MLA and Congress deputy leader in Assembly Naseem Khan said.
 
The Indian Air Force deployed a MI-17 helicopter to rescue 58 villagers, including 18 children, from Ju village in neigbouring Thane as they were stranded in rising flood waters.
 
In another operation, 15 marooned villagers were saved by a MI-17 chopper in Buranda village of Palghar this evening.
 
The operations were conducted after a request by the Maharashtra government, and all the stranded people have shifted to safer locations at the Air Force Station in Thane, and another location in Palghar, said an official spokesperson.
 
In Church Road-Dahanukarwadi areas of Kandivali, some locals made temporary rafts of wooden boards to ferry people to nearby areas for replenishing stocks of essentials.
 
In some villages in Pen of Raigad district, around 60 people were stuck in five-six feet deep water since 4 a.m. on Sunday, were rescued by NDRF teams in boats and similarly 40 saved from marooned Mori village in Palghar this afternoon.
 
Most schools and college in Thane, Ratnagiri and Pune have declared a holiday on Monday in view of continuing rains.
 
The Western Railway (WR) services between Vasai-Virar were suspended for several hours as the tracks were flooded, before resuming at reduced speeds after 14.35 pm.
 
Even Central Railway (CR) services were hit in some sectors like Kurla-Sion due to waterlogging on tracks, breaches in railway lines, and landslides on outstation routes, while its suburban Harbour Line was paralysed.
 
Owing to boulders falling on railway tracks, the CR cancelled 18 trains, diverted three services and short-terminated seven long-distance trains at various points. Trains like the Nagpur-Mumbai Duronto Express were stuck at Igatpuri since 4 a.m.
 
Thousands of outstation passengers were stranded at various stations in Mumbai, Thane and Palghar as the train services were disrupted, while hundreds more were stuck in incoming trains that have been halted at various locations en route.
 
Similar chaos was witnessed on the Konkan Railway with trains getting delayed, inconveniencing thousands of passengers.
 
Mumbai experienced a 4.86 metres high tide at 2.29 p.m., and the combined effect of the existing waterlogging and continuing rains, led to homes in many parts of the suburbs experiencing fresh flooding this afternoon.
 
The BMC, NDRF, two columns of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, besides all other agencies are on a high alert for any eventuality in Mumbai and Thane.
 
A portion of a bridge on Pinjal River in Palghar was washed away on Sunday morning, bringing traffic to a complete halt on both sides, though there are no casualties.
 
For the second consecutive day, waterlogging has been reported in many areas of Nala Sopara, Vasai, Virar, Vikramgad (Palghar district), Mira Road, Bhayander, Thane City, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Titwala, Ulhasnagar (Thane), Roha, Pali, Mangaon, Karjat, Pen, Panvel (Raigad), and Mandangad, Chiplun, and Dapoli (Ratnagiri).
 
In Mumbai several vulnerable spots in Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivali, Andheri, Santacruz, Khar, Bandra, Matunga, Parel, Dadar, Kings Circle, Sion, Vikhroli, Ghatkopar, Kurla, Bhandup, Mulund and other parts were flooded. However, there were no traffic snarls, since it was a holiday.
 
Subways in Kandivali, Malad, and Andheri were flooded, hampering traffic movement in the east-west directions.
 
However, most flights were operating at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport with delays of around 30 minutes, said officials.
 
Till Sunday morning, the IMD said Mumbai city recorded 142 mm rains and the suburbs notched 204 mm.
 
The BMC's rain monitors pegged the figure at 116 mm for Mumbai city, and 195 mm for the eastern-western suburbs.
 
The BMC Disaster Control had issued a warning to people not to venture near the beaches as a very high tide of 4.9 metres will occur at 1.44 p.m. and keep away from all seafronts for the next two days as extremely heavy rains are forecast.
 
IANS
 

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Gujarat ship washes ashore Maharashtra village

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A large cargo ship from Gujarat went adrift and got stuck on the rocks of Vangaon village in Maharashtra following stormy and rough weather conditions in the Arabian Sea on Saturday, officials said.
 
According to Vangaon Police Station chief, Rahul Patil, some fishermen informed the authorities about the stranded ship.
 
"We immediately sent a police team there and found that there are around 13 crew members on board the stranded vessel. We have taken full details from them and are making further arrangements to rescue them from the ship," Patil told IANS.
 
Captain V. V. Pillai said the ship 'M.V. Nanda Aparna' had set sail from Hazira (Gujarat) to Alibaug in Raigad (Maharashtra) last week with a cargo of steel.
 
After unloading the cargo at Alibaug, it was returning to Hazira on Friday evening.
 
"Everything was okay till around 2 a.m. Thereafter, we encountered extremely heavy rain, very high waves, almost zero visibility and we seemed to have lost the course. Around 4 a.m., we found that we were stuck on the rocky shores of Palghar," Captain Pillai told IANS from the ship.
 
He said all the crew members were safe and there was sufficient food and water for them on board and they were awaiting help from the owners, Eco Pronch Logistics Pvt. Ltd. in Surat.
 
As per the preliminary investigation, police said one of the ship's propellers appeared to be badly damaged,  paralysing the ship.
 
The 1,478 tonne merchant ship measures around 78 metres in length and five metres in width, said Captain Pillai.
 
Meanwhile, a large number of curious onlookers from the fishing village and nearby areas thronged the seafront for a view of the big ship.
 
IANS
 

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Four college girls drown in Navi Mumbai waterfall

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At least four college girls, who bunked classes for an impromptu picnic, drowned in the raging Pandavkada waterfall in Kharghar town of Maharashtra on Saturday, a police officer said.
 
The incident occurred around 11 a.m. when the girls skipped their classes to go to the picturesque waterfall along with six other friends. Three of the girls were studying in the SIES College of Arts, Science and Commerce.
 
The three girls have been identified by the college authorities as Aarti Nair, Neha Dama and Shweta Nand. 
 
The fourth victim, Sneha Jain, was not from the same college. She has been identified by some of her friends who were part of the picnic group. All the drowned students are in the 18-19 years age group.
 
"The college is functioning normally, despite heavy rains. The classes started at 7.30 a.m., but these three girls were absent today. We also learnt of this tragedy from the police and mediapersons," college Principal Milind Vaidya told IANS.
 
Pandavkada waterfalls are listed as a dangerous picnic spot and picnickers are banned from going there. It is not clear how the girls managed to reach the restricted area and whether there was security deployed at the spot.
 
In 2010, at least 12 students had drowned in the waterfall, and in 2005 four had been swept away by the swirling waters of the fall.
 
IANS

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Drones to undertake large-scale mapping of village areas in Maharashtra

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Survey of India, the national mapping agency of the country, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Revenue & Land Records, Maharashtra to undertake large-scale mapping of village "gaothan (Aabadi)" areas in the state using drones.
 
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inaugurated the Drone-based Mapping Project being carried out by Survey of India at Nimgaon Korhale in Ahmednagar district on July 31. 
 
Minister of Rural Development, Women and Child Welfare Pankaja Gopinath Munde; Surveyor General of India Lt Gen Girish Kumar, Commissioner Revenue & Land Records; Commissioner Rural Development and Secretary, RDD from Maharashtra Government along with other officials were also present during the launch of the project.
 
The project is being carried out by Survey of India for the Department of Revenue and Land Records, using professional survey-grade drone covering more than 40,000 village areas in Maharashtra.
 
Gaothan areas not surveyed earlier will be mapped at 1:500 scale covering all land parcels in the village for preparing accurate revenue maps and GIS database. Drone survey will be pivotal to fix locations of village boundaries, canals, canal limits and roads in these villages, an official press release said.
 
A detailed presentation about the project was made in the National Workshop and Conference of Sarpanch and Upsarpanch organized jointly by Department of Rural Development and All India Sarpanch Association Shirdi, Ahmednagar district on Wednesday.
 
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7 members of family killed in Maharashtra road accident

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A seven-member family from Karnataka's Dharwad, including two senior members proceeding for the Haj pilgrimage, were killed in a major road accident in this Maharashtra district on Wednesday, police said.
 
According to investigating officer Suryakant Pawar, the mishap occurred around 1.15 a.m. when SUV driver Shahnawaz Bhandari allegedly lost control and rammed the vehicle into a tree near Kashil village on the Mumbai-Mangaluru Highway, around 130 km from Pune.
 
The impact of the accident was so severe that six persons sitting inside were killed instantly, he said.
 
Another passenger, who was seriously injured, was taken to a local hospital but succumbed shortly after, while the seriously injured driver Bhandari is undergoing treatment.
 
As per available information, Pawar said that the elderly couple -- Nizamuddin A. N. Saudagar, 59 and his wife Safura, 58 -- were proceeding for the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia from Mumbai, and the other family members were travelling to see them off.
 
They include their son Mansuf N. Saudagar, 40, his wife Nafisa, 35, and their three minor children Tyeba, 6, Aksa, 4, (both daughters) and two-year-old son Ahmed.
 
Police said that efforts are being made to inform their relatives back home in Dharwad about the accident and make arrangements to hand over the bodies to them.
 
IANS
 

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Congress, NCP lose 4 MLAs, ex-Minister, woman leader to BJP

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On anticipated lines, the beleaguered Maharashtra Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party lost four sitting legislators, one former Minister, a state-level woman leader and other activists as they crossed over to join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here on Wednesday, party sources said.
 
Seven-time Congress legislator Kalidas Kolambkar (Wadala in south Mumbai), NCP's Sandeep Naik (Airoli), Vaibhav Pichad (Akole) and Shivendra Raje Bhosale (Satara) on Tuesday quit their parties and legislative seats. 
 
Besides, state NCP's women's wing President Chitra Wagh also joined the BJP to a huge round of applause.
 
All the newcomers were welcomed to the party fold by state BJP President Chandrakant Patil and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Mumbai BJP chief M. P. Lodha, cabinet ministers and senior party leaders at a function here on Wednesday morning.
 
Patil assured that all the new entrants would be given suitable roles befitting their stature in the party as he hinted at more walkovers from the Opposition to the BJP before the Assembly elections to be held in October.
 
The crossover of these opposition leaders took place a day before Fadnavis embarks on his state-wide 'Mahajanadesh Yatra' to kickstart the poll campaign.
 
IANS
 

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Woman Maoist gunned down in Maharashtra gunfight

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A woman Maoist was gunned down in a fierce gun battle between the rebels and security forces in the dense forests in this Maoist-hit Maharashtra district, an official said here on Monday.
 
The success was notched around noon when a team of the elite C-60 commandos, carrying out an operation in the Phuser-Garanji forests near Potegaon, came under indiscriminate fire from hidden rebels and retaliated with equal vigour.
 
After some time, taking advantage of the thick undergrowth, the Maoists escaped from the spot even as the commandos tried to chase them.
 
A search of the area revealed the body of an unidentified woman extremist and some Maoist literature, which has been seized.
 
Police suspect that among those who escaped, there could be at least another four-five who may be injured in the return fire by the commandos.
 
According to Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police Shailesh Balkawade, efforts are on to identify the woman whose body was found, and the Maoist group for which she worked.
 
Since the other injured Maoists may try to seek medical help from local villagers, he appealed to them to immediately inform the police so the extremists can be apprehended.
 
Monday's action came during the ongoing Tribal Development Week by the police and the forces have intensified their patrolling in the affected areas of the district.
 
IANS
 

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Woman who had labour pains in stalled train safe

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A nine-month pregnant woman who suddenly went into labour pains in the stranded Mahalaxmi Express train, stuck in floodwaters at Vangani outside Mumbai for nearly 18 hours, was rescued safely on Saturday, officials said.
 
Earlier on Saturday, her panicky relatives sent out urgent appeals from the D1 bogey seeking help to rush her to a hospital to avoid complications.
 
The woman, identified as Reshma T. Kamble, was proceeding from Mumbai to Kolhapur for delivery but the train was stranded in Thane flood waters since late Friday evening.
 
Later, it transpired that there were another nine women on board in different stages of pregnancy who were in distress and awaited food and medical help for hours, giving anxious moments to their relatives.
 
"Fortunately, all the pregnant women were evacuated on priority by the rescue teams, given preliminary medical help or kept under observation. All have been safely discharged now and there were no medical complications for any of the women," Central Railways' Chief Spokesperson Sunil Udasi told IANS.
 
The Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and the National Disaster Response Force had launched one of the biggest operations in the state since the great floods of July 26, 2005, to rescue an estimated 1,200 passengers stranded on the train with around 3-5 feet water on all sides.
 
Later this afternoon, the operation concluded successfully with all the passengers being taken to safer havens at Badlapur or Kalyan, without a single injury to anyone, said Udasi.
 
IANS

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More than 1,000 passengers rescued from stranded train, Mumbai region flooded

More than 1,000 passengers, including nine pregnant women, on the Mahalaxmi Express which was stranded for nearly 18 hours in heavy flood waters, around 90 km from Mumbai, were rescued in a massive, multi-agency operations by Saturday afternoon, officials said.
The Kolhapur-Mumbai Mahalaxmi Express, with about 1500 people on board, stranded in 4-5 feet flood waters near Vangani station, Thane, since Friday night after heavy rains lashed Mumbai and surrounding areas. (Photo: IANS)
The Kolhapur-Mumbai Mahalaxmi Express, with about 1500 people on board, stranded in 4-5 feet flood waters near Vangani station, Thane, since Friday night after heavy rains lashed Mumbai and surrounding areas. (Photo: IANS)
More than 1,000 passengers, including nine pregnant women, on the Mahalaxmi Express which was stranded for nearly 18 hours in heavy flood waters, around 90 km from Mumbai, were rescued in a massive, multi-agency operations by Saturday afternoon, officials said.
 
Central Railway Chief spokesperson Sunil Udasi said 1,050 passengers were safely evacuated without injuries from the train, which was stuck near Vangani, while the State Disaster Authority pegged the figure at 1,200, in what became the biggest joint operation in the state by the Indian Air Force, Army, Navy, the NDRF, state police, the Railway Police, local agencies, NGOs and volunteers since the July 26, 2005 floods.
 
Four National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams from different cities like Mumbai, Thane and Pune rushed to the train and evacuating the train passengers using eight inflatable rubber boats.
 
Besides, seven Indian Navy teams of divers with specialised equipment, a Seaking and MI-17 helicopters of the IAF, and two columns of Indian Army from Mumbai already in Thane and two more en route, were also deployed for the massive operations. Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai called up Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and offered all help from the Centre.
 
The rescue operation picked up pace post-noon when rain subsided a little, enabling quicker movement of personnel and the evacuated passengers carrying their luggage and minor children to safer spots.
 
Many weary passengers attempted to walk, but when they, especially the senior citizens, lost strength, police and other rescuers promptly hoisted them on their shoulders and took them to safety.
 
A few local villagers, many of whom were also stranded in the flood waters, also ventured out to help the train passengers early in the day before the official rescue teams from Mumbai, Thane and Pune reached the venue.
 
The passengers were brought off the train into boats and taken to a small village around 1.5 km away where the villagers welcomed them with water, hot tea and biscuits and even carried their luggage and the kids.
 
From there the passengers boarded buses, vans and smaller vehicles to go to Badlapur, seven km away. A fleet of ambulances with three dozen doctors including gynaecologists were deployed there to tackle any emergency.
 
Nine-month pregnant Reshma T. Kamble, who went into labour, was shifted to the Shushrut Hospital in Badlapur where she is now under observation.
 
The Central Railway then ferried the rescued passengers by a local train to Kalyan where a 19-coach special train was kept ready to take them to Kolhapur, famed for its Goddess Mahalaxmi Temple. A railway official also said that the authorities were also ready to take those passengers who so wanted back home to various destinations in Mumbai.
 
A group of senior citizens, who were proceeding on a pilgrimage to Kolhapur, decided to cancel their plans and return to Mumbai.
 
"We are very thankful to all the rescue agencies and the villagers who took great pains to help and rescue us. Now, we are very tired by this ordeal and will complete our pilgrimage later," one of them told media persons.
 
Fadnavis had instructed Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta to personally monitor the evacuation operations and coordinate with various agencies engaged in the rescue works.
 
The Chief Minister also said that the district administration had made arrangement for meals, tea and fresh water at the Sahyadri Mangal Karyalaya and other locations in villages on the route between the stranded train and Badlapur.
 
Passengers stranded in the Mahalaxmi Express on the flooded railway tracks at Vangani being rescued, in Maharashtra's Thane on July 27, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Passengers stranded in the Mahalaxmi Express on the flooded railway tracks at Vangani being rescued, in Maharashtra's Thane on July 27, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Meanwhile, the CR also said that it would also decide later how to shift the train and clear the tracks for restoring the train traffic on that route, as water considerably receded by evening and the adjacent railway track was visible.
 
In Thane, around 550 people stranded in the towns of Kalyan, Dombivali, Badlapur and Titwal were also saved from the flood waters by the rescue teams till this evening.
 
Thane Guardian Minister Eknath Shinde took a boat and went on an inspection tour of the affected areas in Vangani and its surroundings.
 
Rain continued to lash the coastal districts and many towns were practically underwater since early on Saturday as flooding local rivers and other water bodies overflowed into residential areas.
 
The busy Mumbai-Goa Highway was blocked this afternoon after a landslide near Khed. There are no immediate reports of any casualties.
 
Mumbai Airport operations suffered with cancellation of 11 flights and nine diversions early on Saturday, but the situation returned to normal by 9 a.m., official sources said.
 
While Mumbai's lifeline, the suburban trains functioned with delays of 15-20 minutes on Western Railway and CR, the latter had to cancel services between Karjat-Kalyan (in Thane) owing to floods and waterlogging on the tracks since Friday.
 
Though the country's commercial capital continued to get intermittent showers, the worst-hit were Thane and Ratnagiri with towns of Ulhasnagar, Murbad, Badlapur, Tiwala, Vangani, Khed, Mangaon, Mandangad, Chiplun and surroundings practically submerged.
 
Heavy rain lashed Palghar, Pune and Nashik on Saturday, with the IMD forecasting similar weather for the next couple of days in the entire coastal region including Mumbai.
 
IANS
 

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Mumbai rain stalls train for 15 hrs: IAF choppers, NDRF boats to rescue

Two IAF helicopters and six boats of the NDRF have left for Vangani on Saturday to rescue around 1,500 passengers stranded in the Mahalaxmi Express train as a torrential downpour continued in Mumbai and surroundings for the third consecutive day, officials said.
The Kolhapur-Mumbai Mahalaxmi Express, with about 1500 people on board, stranded in 4-5 feet flood waters near Vangani station, Thane, since Friday night after heavy rains lashed Mumbai and surrounding areas. (Photo: IANS)
The Kolhapur-Mumbai Mahalaxmi Express, with about 1500 people on board, stranded in 4-5 feet flood waters near Vangani station, Thane, since Friday night after heavy rains lashed Mumbai and surrounding areas. (Photo: IANS)
Two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters and six boats of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have left for Vangani on Saturday to rescue around 1,500 passengers stranded in the Mahalaxmi Express train as a torrential downpour continued in Mumbai and surroundings for the third consecutive day, officials said.
 
Hundreds of panicky, starving and thirsty passengers on the Mumbai-Kolhapur train were seen making appeals for help on mobile videos and social media.
 
They said they had no drinking water or food since nearly 15 hours and no escape route as the train was practically cut off with five-six feet water on all sides.
 
Guardian Minister for Thane Eknath Gaikwad said two helicopters will help the rescue operation along with six teams of the NDRF on the ground from Mumbai, Thane and Pune which are rushing there with inflatable rubber boats shortly.
 
The towns of Badlapur, Ulhasnagar, Vangani were practically underwater since early Saturday as heavy rain lashed the region, flooding local rivers and other water bodies.
 
The Central Railway (CR) earlier in the day warned the Mahalaxmi Express passengers against stepping out of the trains in view of the dangerous water levels outside and requested them to wait for help which is on the way.
 
The CR added that a relief train has been stationed at Badlapur to ferry the passengers, along with food, water and medical supplies, besides making arrangements to take the passengers onward to Kolhapur.
 
Though the suburban trains in Mumbai functioned with delays of 15-20 minutes on Western Railway and CR, the latter had to cancel services between Karjat-Kalyan (in Thane) owing to floods and waterlogging on the tracks since Friday.
 
In Mumbai, Minister of Education Ashish Shelar authorized school and college principals to declare a holiday to ensure students are not inconvenienced if heavy rain continued.
 
IANS

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Mumbai NCP chief Sachin Ahir to join Shiv Sena

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In a jolt to the opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), its Mumbai president Sachin Ahir on Thursday was all set to join the ruling Shiv Sena, a party source said here.
 
Indirectly confirming the move, Ahir told the media today that "in politics, tough decisions have to be taken and he was full of pain" over his plans, barely two months ahead of the state Assembly elections.
 
However, the 47-year-old Worli legislator said he was happy to get an opportunity to help fulfil the dreams of Sena President Uddhav Thackeray.
 
A former minister, Ahir's entry to the Sena will be announced by Thackeray at a press conference shortly amidst speculation that several other NCP bigwigs are also planning to quit.
 
IANS
 

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