• Friday, October 24, 2014

10 killed, dozens trapped in western India landslide

BBC Online
Reports say heavy rains triggered the landslide. Photo taken from BBC
Reports say heavy rains triggered the landslide. Photo taken from BBC

At least 10 people have died after a landslide buried more than 40 houses and left 160 people trapped under debris in a village in western India.

The first teams of emergency workers have arrived in Malin village, near the city of Pune in Maharashtra state, where the disaster happened.

Rescuers trying to reach survivors caught under the debris are being hampered by bad weather.

The landslide hit the village early in the morning while people were sleeping.

Landslides are common in some parts of India during the monsoon rains, which run from June to September.

An official from India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said difficult terrain in the hilly area was making rescue work difficult.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the loss of lives in the landslide as "saddening". He said Home Minister Rajnath Singh would travel to Pune to assess the situation.

At the scene: Devidas Deshpande

Looking at the scale of destruction, pulling out any survivors would be no less than a miracle.

It's been raining heavily for the past two to three days in this remote area, and residents of nearby villages say they were woken up by a loud noise at 3am. Some said it sounded like a massive bomb had gone off.

A large part of a nearby hill collapsed on Malin, and its population of 150 to 200 tribal people were covered with tonnes of loose earth, mud and rocks.

Its homes, mostly shanties made of mud and grass, were flattened and buried under the debris, giving its sleeping residents little chance of escape.

It was not until midday that residents from nearby villages managed to inform administrators.

Rescue teams have been delayed by the narrow single-lane road that is the only approach to the village, and incessant rains are hampering the rescue operations.

More than 12 hours after disaster struck, rescuers are digging through the debris to try to reach survivors, but as evening falls, hopes are getting dimmer.
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Senior local official Prabhakar Deshmukh told the Associated Press news agency that rescue workers were being hampered by rains and poor roads.

"Two people have been rescued. According to the district officials 150-200 are feared trapped," Tripti Parule, a spokeswoman for the National Disaster Management Authority, said in an email to the BBC.

Indian television channels showed dramatic footage of a huge chunk of a hillside giving way, with mud, rocks and water flowing below.

Local official Saurav Rao told the Press Trust of India that heavy machinery and ambulances had been sent to the village.

"The exact number of casualties is not known as we are moving slowly to ensure that those trapped are removed safely," Rao said.

More than 500 people died and several thousand people were listed as missing after floods and landslides hit the northern state of Uttarakhand in June last year.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, July 31, 2014

Last modified: 9:47 pm Thursday, July 31, 2014

TAGS: India landslide disaster

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