- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

BOMBAY — Authorities said yesterday they had recovered at least 200 bodies in western India after the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in the country shut down the financial hub of Bombay, snapped communication lines and marooned thousands of people in the past two days.

The bodies were found in Maharashtra state, of which Bombay is the capital. The figure includes 83 deaths in Bombay. Hundreds more have been killed by monsoon rains in the past two months, officials said.

Some of yesterday’s victims were electrocuted or trapped in cars while others drowned in swirling floodwaters or were buried by falling walls.

The torrential rains shut down Bombay, closing airports and train stations.

Troops were deployed after sudden rain — measuring up to 37.1 inches in one day — stranded tens of thousands in suburban Bombay.

India’s previous heaviest rainfall, recorded at Cherrapunji in the northeastern Meghalaya state — one of the rainiest places on Earth — was 33 inches on July 12, 1910.

“Most places in India don’t receive this kind of rainfall in a year. This is the highest ever recorded in India’s history,” said R.V. Sharma, director of the meteorological department in Bombay.

The heavy seasonal rains have washed away tens of thousands of homes, along with roads, railway tracks and bridges.

Early yesterday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, the state’s top elected official, ordered a two-day holiday and called the army, navy and home guards to help with relief.

“Inflatable rafts will be used to reach stranded people. Please try to stay where you are and don’t leave your homes,” he said.

The state-run All India Radio reported about 150,000 people were stranded in rail stations across Bombay.

Hundreds of children spent the night in suburban schools.

The domestic and international airports in Bombay were shut down Tuesday, and all incoming flights were diverted to New Delhi and other airports.

More than 76,000 farm animals have been killed and more than 1.72 million acres of crops have been destroyed, officials said.

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