[Heavy machinery has been mobilised to try to rescue those feared trapped at Malin village in Pune district, Maharashtra. (HT Photo)]
By Yogesh Joshi
Malin, Ambegaon, (Hindustan Times): It had been raining heavily in Malin village in Ambegaon taluka since Tuesday. On Wednesday, around 7am, most of the villagers were sleeping inside their homes, when the torrential rain triggered a massive landslide that buried the remote village within minutes.
An hour later, a state transport bus reached the place to find that at least 48 of the 67 homes were buried under the debris. And this is how the state administration was alerted of the disaster.
According to officials, 17 bodies – eight men and nine women – have been recovered so far. At least 158 people are feared to be trapped under the 25-ft deep debris, with low chances of survival.
Most of the victims were caught completely unawares and had no time to save themselves, said officials.
“Chances of the trapped victims’ survival are very slim. Most of the homes are completely buried and the land looks like an elevated plain. The portion of the hill fell from a height of 17ft to 18ft on the houses,” said Saurab Rao, Pune district collector.
Rao said it will take at least two to three days for the rescue operations to be completed. Villagers said this was the first big rainfall of the season, with the area having received around 100mm rain within a day.
As news of the destruction spread, residents of neighbouring villages started informal rescue operations by 11am. The National Disaster Response Force Help could reach the spot only by 12.30pm and managed to pull out nine bodies after four hours.
“I pulled out three dead bodies from the rubble. They were beyond recognition,” said Sachin Divekar, who lives in the outskirts of the village and was one of the first few people to reach the site.
Till late evening, generators and water pumps for the rescue operations were unable to reach the spot as the administration vehicles, ambulances and media vans had blocked the road to the village.
Eyewitnesses said they could hear a few people trapped inside. “Some people are still alive. I spoke to a mother and child,” said Mayur Sayid, who was taken to the primary health centre at Manchar, 5km from the site.
The administration has identified 12 of the 17 bodies recovered so far. Most of the victims are from the Mahadev Koli tribe and were engaged in agriculture.