The heavy rain and flooding that has devastated large parts of Maharashtra and killed 30 people so far, has now also destroyed hundreds of tons of potatoes being transported to Belgaum district in Karnataka. Hundreds of trucks carrying potatoes and other vegetables left Gujarat more than a week ago, but were left stranded 50 km outside Kolhapur city due to the closure of National Highway 4.
"We left from Gujarat with cargo of 30 tons of potatoes, but have been stuck here for seven days. Our cargo, which is worth up to Rs 5 lakh, has been spoilt. We can't go forward and now we can't even go back," one of the truck drivers told NDTV.
Kolhapur district, within which the city lies, is one of the worst-affected in Maharashtra, with hundreds still waiting to be rescued after nearly a week of rescue operations.
A district administration official was quoted by news agency PTI as saying food packets had to be air-dropped to some parts of the district because roads were water-logged. Water levels in other parts is less than four feet, meaning boats cannot be used and help and relief material is being provided by tractors.
A NDRF team rescued four pregnant women from the district yesterday, bringing the total number of people rescued to 17,000. Visuals from Friday showed sections of the city, including hotels, showrooms and a large godown, under 10 feet of water, with only their roofs visible. On Thursday, disaster response teams rescued more than 3,500 people from Kolhapur.
Residents have struggled for basic supplies - including fuel, food and drinking water. Nearly 4,000 homes have been destroyed.
Officials have said it could take several days for the water to completely recede. However, predictions of more rain over the next 24 hours have raised fears of more damage.
More than 30 people have been killed and four lakh displaced across Maharashtra. Over 100 emergency rescue teams - from the NDRF, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Army - have been deployed across 10 districts, including Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli and Ratnagiri.
On Saturday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis attributed the flooding to "unprecedented" rainfall this monsoon, which he said, was "more than double" that of 2005, when massive floods were witnessed.
With inputs from PTI
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