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Landslide kills 16 people in rain-hit tribal village in Maharashtra

As many as 21 people were rescued from the site


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Press Trust of India Mumbai
At least 16 people were killed when a massive landslide struck a remote hilly tribal village in Maharashtra's Raigad district overnight amid rains, while the National Disaster Response Force stopped its day-long search and rescue operation for survivors due to downpour on Thursday, NDRF officials said.
As many as 21 people were rescued from the site, they said. The landslide occurred around 11 pm on Wednesday at Irshalwadi village, situated on a hill slope, under Khalapur tehsil of the coastal district, around 80 km from Mumbai, and flattened 17 of the nearly 50 houses in the hamlet, an official said. The incident took place after torrential rains in the hilly area. From the hill base, it takes around 1.5 hours to reach Irshalwadi, which does not have a pucca road.
NDRF and police officials said 16 bodies were recovered from the landslide site during the day, while 21 people were rescued. The Raigad police said last rites of 13 victims were performed near the disaster site. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited Irshalwadi in the morning to take stock of the situation and spoke to personnel engaged in the rescue operation. "Irshalwadi was not on the list of landslide-prone villages.Our priority now is to rescue those still trapped beneath the rubble, he told reporters at the site. This is a very unfortunate incident and the state government stands with the affected people, the CM said. There is continuous heavy rainfall and the debris and rubble has mounted up to 15 to 20 feet, he said. Shinde said authorities were not able to move the machinery for the rescue operation. Two helicopters have been kept ready for the operation, but they have not been able to take-off due to bad weather, he said. On rehabilitation of the landslide-affected villagers, the CM said 50 to 60 containers have been arranged for them (as temporary shelters) and there was a plan to move them to a safer place. "We will soon take steps to carry out proper rehabilitation of the landslide-affected villagers. I have spoken to the divisional commissioner and district collector and discussed about permanent rehabilitation of these villagers immediately. We are doing it on a war-footing," Shinde said.
Search and rescue personnel at the site were facing hurdles due to the difficult hill terrain of the area where heavy equipment cannot be easily moved, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other officials said.
In the evening, NDRF personnel stopped their search and rescue operation at the landslide site due to bad weather and will resume the exercise on Friday morning. NDRF personnel were armed with only small tools as it was difficult to move heavy equipment to the disaster site due to hilly terrain and bad weather. "Due to continuous heavy rain and threat of more landslides as well as darkness, the NDRF has called off its operation for the day," an official said. The four NDRF teams heading the search and rescue operation along with scores of other personnel will re-start their task at 5am on Friday, he said. Personnel and heavy equipment for the rescue and relief operation were sent from Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.
An official said, acting on the directive of Chief Minister Shinde, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sent three Bobcat-make machines from its solid waste management department sites. These backhoe loaders, with greater manoeuvrability due to their small size, will help in speeding up rescue and relief operation. Thane Municipal Corporation disaster management cell chief Yasin Tadvi said rescue teams and equipment have moved towards the landslide site. A team of the Thane Disaster Response Force, fire engines from CBD Belapur, Vashi and Khoparkhairane in Navi Mumbai, and personnel along with 10 ambulances have been dispatched, he said.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a statement, said 48 families were living in the village.
The village has around 50 houses, of which 17 were buried under the landslide, officials said. Irshalwadi is a tribal village inaccessible by pucca road and is located 6 km from the Morbe dam, which supplies water to Navi Mumbai. Meanwhile, in a statement issued during the day, Deputy CM Pawar asked his supporters not to organise celebrations to mark his 63rd birthday on July 22 and directed them to donate money to rehabilitation efforts in the landslide hit area. Incidentally, his supporters had planned to organise 'Ajitotsav' from July 22-31 to mark the birthday.
A dinner planned for Deputy CMs Pawar and Fadnavis by NCP leader Praful Patel in Mumbai has also been called cancelled following the tragedy, Patel's aide said. Eyewitnesses and survivors in Irshaldwadi narrated the shock of realising that a massive landslide had buried many of them amid heavy rains that was pounding the region for the past few days. They managed to come out from the mound of mud and rubble of household items, but the thought of piecing together their lives from here on weighed heavily as they recounted their brush with fate. There is nothing left except soil and debris, said a distraught man, who used to stay long with four friends at night in a school located at the foot of the hillock. Narrating the horror, the man said at around 10.30 pm on Wednesday, he was sitting in the school room and chatting with his friends when he heard a loud sound. "I ran out of the school to save myself and later found there was a landslide which damaged our houses. My parents are trapped under the debris. Now, nothing is left except the soil and debris on the spot where my house was located," he said fighting back tears. A couple and their toddler were among those who managed to extricate themselves from the debris. "I was sleeping when I realised we were covered by rubble and mud. I managed to pull out myself, my wife and child and then we all just ran out to save our lives," a man said.
"It was dark and I could hear screams of people but was not able to comprehend anything since I was unable to see what was going on. We are safe but our house is damaged," he said, his face exhibiting the pain and shock that the incident has inflicted. This was the biggest landslide in Maharashtra after the one that hit Malin village under Ambegaon tehsil of Pune district on July 30, 2014.The 2014 landslide, which claimed 153 lives, had swallowed up almost the entire tribal village of around 50 families.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Topics : landslide

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First Published: Jul 20 2023 | 11:50 PM IST

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