Lucknow: A heavy spell of retreating monsoon rains has flooded wide areas in northern India, killing dozens of people this week, an official said Saturday.
Sandhaya Kureel, a spokeswoman of the Disaster Management and Relief Department, said most of the 59 fatalities were caused by house collapses, lightning and drowning in Uttar Pradesh state. These included at least five people dying of snake bites in flooded areas.
The temple city of Varanasi was lashed by 19 centimetres of rain on Thursday and Friday, flooding the bathing areas of the Ganges River used by thousands of Hindu pilgrims.
Schools were shut on Saturday as the downpour caused disruptions in the state capital, Lucknow, and several towns, including Amethi and Hardoi.
J.P. Gupta, director of the state Meteorological Department, said the rain is expected to ebb after Monday.
The Press Trust of India news agency said the western state of Maharashtra was also hit by heavy rain and nearly 3,000 people were moved to higher ground due to flooding in low-lying areas of Pune city and neighbouring areas.
More than 350 people have been killed by rain-related causes in India, Nepal and Bangladesh this monsoon season, which runs from June through September.
Train services were temporarily suspended on the Samastipur-Darbhanga and Gaya-Koderma routes in Bihar due to continuing heavy rains on Saturday morning. Some trains from the Ara-Sasaram-Pandit Deendayal Upadhayay junction were also cancelled following water logging on the tracks, a railway official said.
Rajesh Kumar, chief public relations officer (CPRO) of East Central Railway (ECR), said the train services have been temporarily suspended on the Samastipur-Darbhanga section. “Several trains have been affected,” he said.
According to Kumar, heavy rains have stalled rail traffic on Gaya-Koderma route for five hours and services resumed at 7.30am (local time) on Saturday.
The state Disaster Management Department officials said heavy rains have affected normal life across the state since Thursday and many districts are facing floods. A red alert was sounded in the state on Friday after the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted heavy to extremely heavy rainfall over the next three days in 14 of the state’s 38 districts.
“In view of alert, all the government and private run schools have been ordered shut till September 29 in these districts,” officials said.
Disaster Management Department principal secretary Pratyay Amrit said he has alerted all the district’s where heavy to extremely heavy rains are expected on Saturday and Sunday. “I have asked the district officials to be fully prepared to face any situation,” he said.
Water Resources Department officials said water levels in all the rivers in the state were rising leading to inundation in towns and rural areas and putting pressure on the embankments.
According to officials, water gushed into dozens of villages in Muzaffarpur, West Champaran, East Champaran, Darbhanga and Bhagalpur. In Muzaffarpur, heavy rainfall has resulted in waterlogging in the entire town. “The town is submerged due to failure of drainage system and the water has entered the Sadar Hospital,” said an official.