• Thursday, October 30, 2014

Death toll in India landslide hits 30

BBC Online
Rescue workers and volunteers clear the debris from the site of a landslide at Malin village in the western Indian state of Maharashtra July 30, 2014. Heavy rain triggered a landslide in India on Wednesday burying up to 150 people and rescuers were struggling through mud to try to reach them, a disaster official said. Photo: Reuters
Rescue workers and volunteers clear the debris from the site of a landslide at Malin village in the western Indian state of Maharashtra July 30, 2014. Heavy rain triggered a landslide in India on Wednesday burying up to 150 people and rescuers were struggling through mud to try to reach them, a disaster official said. Photo: Reuters

Rescue workers in western India are working to locate survivors of a landslide that has claimed at least 30 lives and buried up to 200 people.

Eight people have been rescued from the wreckage in Malin village, near the city of Pune in Maharashtra state.

But more than 36 hours after Wednesday morning's landslide, chances of finding more people alive appear small.

Officials say rain is hampering efforts to search for scores of people presumed trapped under the mud and debris.

The landslide hit the village early on Wednesday while people were sleeping.

On Thursday, rescuers continued their search through heavy rains, but hopes of finding any more survivors were fading.

"Miracles do happen, we will keep looking, but under current conditions it is very, very bleak," AFP news agency quoted Alok Avasthy, regional commandant of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) at the scene, as saying.

Wailing relatives, mourning the loss of entire families, are at the scene, hoping and praying for some positive news. Survivors could be seen rummaging through the debris, trying to salvage their possessions.

Among the eight people saved were 25-year-old Pramila Lembe and her three-month-old baby, who were rescued eight hours after the landslide.

"I was breast-feeding the baby when I heard a loud thunder-like clap. I tried to run but the wall collapsed," Lembe told AFP while recovering in hospital.

"I held the boy somehow. I tried to shout but heard no-one," she added.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel clear the debris from the site of a landslide at Malin village, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra July 30, 2014. Photo: Reuters
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel clear the debris from the site of a landslide at Malin village, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra July 30, 2014. Photo: Reuters

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.

"Everything on the mountain came down," said Suresh Jadhav, a district official, describing how a cascade of mud, rocks and uprooted trees swamped the area.

The disaster only came to light when a bus passed by and the driver saw that the village had disappeared under masses of mud and earth, officials said.

Rescue operations were disrupted several times on Thursday after "very heavy rainfall" in the area.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told the Press Trust of India news agency that more than 160 people were believed to be trapped in 44 houses buried under the rubble.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the loss of lives in the landslide as "saddening". On Thursday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh travelled to Pune to assess the situation.

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

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: 12:07 pm Thursday, July 31, 2014

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

TAGS: disaster death toll India landslide Pune

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