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India Monsoon Flooding Death Toll Climbs

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NEW DELHI—The head of a village on India’s west coast was celebrating his birthday last week when a few local boys ran to his house with a message: The river that flowed through the village was so high that houses were being swept away from the banks.

Over the past week, heavy monsoon rains lashed the state of Maharashtra, triggering scenes of devastation and killing at least 150 people, according to local government officials. Mudslides flattened villages and roads turned into rivers that cut off access to villages.

After being summoned by the boys, the village head, Somnath Digambar Ozarde, rushed to the river and saw people trying to rescue their neighbors, he said. He estimated the river was 25 to 30 feet higher than usual.

“This is the biggest flood we have seen in 100 to 200 years,” he said. “Even our parents and grandparents say they haven’t seen anything like this in their lifetimes.”

Flooding and landslides aren’t uncommon during India’s monsoon season. In 2019, 950 people died in India because of floods and 264 died in landslides, according to the most recent data available from the Indian government.

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