Pune: Over forty houses in a village in Pune district were buried in a landslide triggered by heavy rains on Wednesday. Around 17 dead bodies have been taken out from the debris, confirmed reports.
Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh has feared that around 167 more people could still be trapped inside.
Malin village in Ambegaon taluk of the district was hit by the landslide after two lakes in the region overflowed today morning.
The administration has issued helpline numbers to provide latest information about the incident. The helpline number is - 020-26120720
Officials said the death toll could go up. 14 injured survivors have also been pulled out of the rubble and admitted to a primary health centre nearby, sources at an emergency control room set up at Khed-Manchar told PTI. An earlier report had said 15 persons were extricated from the debris alive.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said over 160 people were believed to be trapped in the 44 houses buried under the rubble after large parts of a hillside collapsed on them early this morning.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to visit Malin village, the scene of the tragedy, in Ambegaon taluka of the district, some 120 km from the district headquarters, tomorrow, according to a BJP spokesman. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the tragedy and asked Singh to rush to Pune to take stock of the situation.
“The Prime Minister has condoled the loss of lives in the landslide and directed all possible efforts to help the affected people,” a PMO statement said in Delhi.
Large earth-moving machinery have been pressed into service but the rescuers are moving slowly to avoid causing harm to the possible survivors, Pune collector Saurav Rao said, adding the operation to clear the rubble was on.
Crowds have gathered at the spot and villagers could be seen moving fallen trees and rocks with bare hands to assist 300 National Disaster Response Force personnel in rescue efforts.
Scores of JCBs, dumpers and ambulances have been pressed into service to clear the rubble and shift the dead and survivors to hospitals, Rao said.
Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) comprising of 300 personnel will reach the spot in a while. The Maharashtra government has also summoned the army personnel to speed up the rescue operations.
According to District Collector Saurav Rao, the administration has mobilised rescue machinery to pull out those trapped.
"Exact number of causalities is not known as we are moving slowly to ensure that those trapped are removed safely. About 30 ambulances have been rushed from adjoining areas to extend medical help to the victims," he said, adding earth moving equipment from government and private parties were being pressed into service.
Communication difficulties and rains were affecting the operations, he said.
State's Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Patangrao Kadam said rescue operations were going on in full swing in coordination with various government agencies.
Pune Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh is coordinating the relief work, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse Patil said.
"The Pune district collector and SP have reached the spot. The divisional commissioner is coordinating the relief work," Walse Patil, who represents the affected region in the state Assembly, said.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar have rushed to the village.
“The incident of landslide took place today morning in the Malin village of Ambegaon tehsil. The population of this village is around 715. 44 houses were destroyed and around 160 people are trapped under the debris. Officials and ministers are on the spot and monitoring the situation. I along with Deputy CM Ajit Pawar will be going to the place in a while. NDRF teams and doctors have been dispatched," the Chief Minister said.