Severe monsoon flooding has killed 213 people in western India, an official said on Sunday, as rescuers continue to sift through villages devastated by torrential rains.
The death toll in Gujarat state jumped from Wednesday’s total of 123 to 213, the government said, as waters receded from low-lying areas, allowing rescue workers to reach remote spots.
Overwhelmed authorities, which expect the toll to rise further, said they had struggled to cope with the number of bodies needing identification and postmortems, resulting in delays in confirming the latest deaths.
An official at the state’s emergency control room explained that “only after a postmortem is conducted we can officially confirm death of a person”.
“Since many bodies were found, postmortems took time, hence the sudden jump in numbers,” the official, who requested anonymity, said.
The rise comes after rescuers plucked 25 bodies, including 17 members of one family, on Wednesday from two submerged villages in the hard-hit Banaskantha district of Gujarat.
Rescue workers have moved close to 130,000 people from low-lying, dangerous areas as helicopters and boats continue to try to reach those still stranded.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who flew over the devastation in Gujarat last week, used his radio show on Sunday to reassure flood-hit states that all help was being provided to them.
As well as Gujarat, the north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have been hit by monsoon flooding, while pockets of the eastern states of Odisha and Bihar have also been affected.
In Assam at least 77 people have been killed and a state-wide emergency relief operation has been underway since April. Tens of thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed.