At least 23 people have died in the Mumbai suburbs when buildings collapsed, swept away by landslides caused by heavy rains, local authorities said on Sunday (July 18th).

In Chembur, an eastern suburb of Bombay, an uprooted tree fell on a wall that buried several homes, according to the Natural Disaster Response Force. Seventeen bodies were recovered from the rubble, she said as the search continues. In the suburb of Vikhroli (northeast of Bombay), six people were killed in a landslide that affected five houses.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences and announced that compensation would be paid to the families of the victims.

Local televisions broadcast images of rescuers clearing the ruins by hand to find bodies and rescuers carrying the wounded on improvised stretchers. Authorities have warned that other victims could be trapped inside the collapsed homes.

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Heavy rains still expected

In twenty-four hours, the authorities identified eleven alerts concerning the collapse of walls or houses in the Bombay region. Several areas of the city were flooded due to heavy rains and transportation was disrupted.

Torrential rains, especially during the great monsoon, which runs from June to September in India, regularly cause the collapse of buildings, especially old and illegally constructed dwellings. The great monsoon is crucial for the life and agriculture of the Indian subcontinent, but each year kills hundreds of people in this region of the world which is home to one fifth of the Earth’s inhabitants.

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Bombay, where 20 million people live, has been affected by intense rainfall since Saturday. Heavy rains are still expected there, as on the coast of Maharashtra state, which has many industries, over the next four days, according to weather forecasts.

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Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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