Pune landslide claims 18 lives, 160 feared trapped

Pune landslide claims 18 lives, 160 feared trapped

Pune landslide claims 18 lives, 160 feared trapped

At least 18 people were killed when landslides triggered by relentless rain struck Malingaon, some 120 km from Pune, early on Wednesday, burying over 160 people. 

Eight people have been rescued as search operations are under way in the massive debris of mud and rock. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rushed Home Minister Rajnath Singh to the tragedy site.

Around 400 specially trained rescue workers from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), aided by two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are engaged in rescue work. 

Racing against time and battling inclement weather, NDRF personnel have pulled out 18 bodies from the rubble and eight injured survivors so far, sources in the emergency control room set up at adjoining Manchar taluka told PTI.

The survivors have been admitted to nearby government-run health centres. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said over 160 people were believed to be trapped in 44 houses buried under the rubble after large parts of a hillside collapsed early in the morning.

A senior official of the NDRF said the force’s battalion based in Pune received a request from the district authorities at 10:45 am, almost five hours after the incident. 

The first team left for the spot at 11 am. Nine teams of the NDRF are working at the disaster spot while six other teams are on stand-by in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar. The official said the personnel are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and communication sets.  NDRF teams are also trying to restore the snapped communication network.

Large earth-moving machinery has 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 NDRF personnel in rescue efforts.