Indian authorities reported that at least 112 people in the western state of Maharashtra died due to torrential monsoon rains that resulted in catastrophic landslides and floods in low-level areas, trapping hundreds of villages.
In the last 24 hours, several parts of western India observed up to 23 inches of rainfall, forcing authorities to issue evacuation orders and assist residents in vulnerable areas. Officials also released water from dams that were on the verge of overflowing.
Devastating Monsoon and Landslides
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who is leading the state government of Maharashtra, said the unexpected heavy rainfall caused landslides in various areas and flooded rivers. He noted that bodies of water in the region were overflowing; and authorities were moving victims near river banks to safer areas.
Authorities also enlisted the assistance of the navy and the army to help in evacuating citizens near coastal areas. In Taliye, 112 miles southeast of Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, officials reported at least 36 people dead. Vijay Wadettiwar, a minister in the state government, said the victims lost their lives when a landslide flattened the majority of the small village, NBC News reported.
In Mumbai, at least four people were reported dead after a building in the area collapsed and another 27 lost their lives in other parts of Maharashtra after landslides and accidents brought by the rainfall sieged the region, state government officials said.
The incident comes as India is struggling against an epidemic that is forcing surgeons to remove a patient's eyes, nose, or jaw. Mucormycosis, also known as "black fungus," has affected 45,374 residents as of Friday, health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said.
Victims have their noses, eyes, and sometimes their brains affected by the new infections. Indian medical professionals are treating nearly half of all affected individuals. Experts have linked the surfacing of the infection to a steroid used in treating COVID-19.
The steroids are used to reduce inflammation in the lungs to help coronavirus patients breathe and reduce the damage that the virus does to the body's immune system. However, the drugs also weakened a person's immunity and increased blood sugar in both diabetics and non-diabetic COVID-19 patients, BBC reported.
Medical experts believe that the drop in immunity is the primary trigger for mucormycosis in diabetics or patients who have severely compromised immune systems. Doctors said that the only effective treatment for the infection is an anti-fungal injection.
The crises occurred amid the country's continued struggle against the coronavirus pandemic and the deadly new Delta variant which was first confirmed in India last October. The new strain has caused a massive new outbreak in the region.
The Delta variant quickly became the most dominant strain of coronavirus in the region, surpassing the Alpha variant which was first reported in the UK. The second wave of the virus caused a peak of 400,000 daily new cases. On May 7, Indian officials reported 414,188 new infections and several thousand COVID-19-related deaths.
Since then, however, the number of cases has steadily decreased and on Thursday, the country reported only 41,383 new infections and 507 new deaths, CNBC reported.