Heavy to very heavy rains pounded several districts in Gujarat's south and Saurashtra regions on Saturday, triggering a flood-like situation in urban areas and isolating villages amid rising water levels in dams and rivers surging to danger levels.
In Junagadh city, dozens of parked cars and cattle were swept away in gushing waters after it received 241 mm of rainfall in just 12 hours till 8 pm on Saturday. People were seen wading through waist-deep water to shift to safer places. Some of them were rescued by volunteers as they were carried away in strong currents.
A father-son duo drowned after their car got washed away near Silvassa town of Dadra and Nagar Haveli district in the Union Territory neighbouring Gujarat. The two were caught by fast-moving waters on Friday night when they were trying to cross over a low-lying bridge.
In Navsari city, a man and his son were swept away in a swollen drain. While the man was rescued, efforts were underway to trace the son, an official said. The Gujarat government said low-lying areas were flooded due to rains in Junagadh district. At least 250 people evacuated to safer places in an operation by this evening.
A system is being put in place for accommodation and making arrangements of food for the evacuees, officials said. Two companies of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) were deployed in Junagadh and a third company was also being dispatched. SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) also allocated two teams, along with five fire response teams of Rajkot municipal corporation and its adjoining Gondal municipality to carry out rescue operations.
Officials said more than 25,000 food packets were being prepared with the support of various social organisations to deliver food to the affected people in Junagadh district.
Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel cut short his official programmes in Rajkot and reached the district collector's office to review the situation in Junagadh. Authorities requested people to take precautions and urged them to contact the control room in case of any untoward incident or emergency situation. Directions have been issued for people against visiting dams and surrounding areas.
Rescue teams were pressed into service to shift people living in low-lying areas to safer places. As many as nine teams of NDRF were deployed, two in Junagadh and one each in neighbouring districts, officials said. In south Gujarat, heavy rains pummelled Navsari district where normal life was thrown out of gear in urban and rural areas due to flooding.
Navsari and Jalalpore talukas recorded 303 mm and 276 mm rainfall, respectively, between 6 am and 8 pm, State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) said. Over 200 mm of rainfall in a few hours on Saturday morning overwhelmed the drainage system in Navsari city, with water spilling onto roads and low-lying areas. It caused massive traffic congestion in the city, and the situation was brought under control through a coordinated effort, additional collector Ketan Joshi said.
Water gushed into a godown storing empty gas cylinders after a wall collapsed there, washing away the LPG containers, Joshi said, adding that the district supply department was looking into the matter.
Heavy showers also flooded the Mumbai-Ahmedabad national highway near Navsari city, officials said. Ahmedabad city was also battered by 101 mm of rainfall in just two hours on Saturday evening, causing flooding on city roads and residential areas. City underpasses were blocked for traffic as a precautionary measure.
Devbhumi Dwarka, Bhavnagar, Bharuch, Surat, Tapi, Valsad and Amreli were among other districts that received heavy rainfall on Saturday, the SEOC said. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a warning of heavy to very heavy rainfall with isolated extremely heavy rainfall in south Gujarat and Saurashtra-Kutch districts till Sunday morning.
A red alert has been issued for Junagadh, Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Kutch, Surat, Valsad, Navsari and Surat. Heavy to very heavy rainfall will continue in many other districts of south Gujarat and Saurashtra-Kutch during the next three days, the IMD said.
The Met department also warned fishermen to not venture along and off the north Gujarat coast from July 22 to July 26 saying squally weather conditions were very likely to prevail during this period.