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28 dead as rain, hailstorms lash Maharashtra

Unseasonal rains accompanied by severe hailstorms have left at least 28 people dead and over 100 others injured across Maharashtra in the past 10 days, officials said here Wednesday.

More than 18,200 homes and dwellings across the state suffered damages as large hailstones battered 29 of the state's 35 districts.

Over 9,000 livestock comprising big and small farm animals and fowl were also killed as storms swept large parts of the state, barring the coastal areas.

The only districts spared of the nature's fury were Mumbai, Mumbai suburban, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg - all in the coastal Konkan region.

Aurangabad accounted for the highest number of casualties - 15, followed by Nagpur with six, Pune with three and Nashik and Amravati with two each.

In terms of property damage, Nagpur topped with 10,261 homes damaged, Aurangabad with 2,686, Pune with 2,483, Nashik with 2,269 and Amravati with 526.

Agriculturists also suffered huge losses.

A whopping 13,70,326 hectares of farmland, including 12,71,853 hectares on which crops like wheat, jowar and gram were grown and 98,473 hectares comprising fruits of different kinds, have been damaged.

The figures were released Wednesday after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress president Manikrao Thakre and Rehabilitation Minister Patangrao Kadam, surveyed four disaster hit districts - Nagpur, Washim, Buldana and Yavatmal.

"We shall announce compensation for the affected people and farmers in a couple of days," Chavan told media persons.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has threatened to take to the streets if the affected farmers are not compensated for their losses.

A team from the central government is expected to visit some of the affected regions Thursday to study and prepare a report for extending compensation to the people.

An all-party meeting in Latur Wednesday demanded that the disaster be declared "a national calamity" to enable disbursal of aid, relief and rehabilitation to the affected people in view of the Election Commission's model code of conduct which is in force now.

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