Pune toll touches 70, no survivors found

Pune toll touches 70, no survivors found

Rescue workers turned to life detectors and sniffer dogs in their effort to locate more survivors at the site of the landslide in Pune’s Malingaon.

However, chances of around 100 missing people being found alive grew remote, 72 hours after disaster struck the village. Rescuers recovered 29 bodies on Thursday night as death toll touched 70.

Around 380 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel and 300 from the state administration continued to scour the area for survivors, as inclement weather and difficult terrain continued to hamper their effort.

The district control room, established to monitor the efforts, declared that the bodies of 28 males, 32 females and 10 children were among those recovered.
Relatives who reached the village, virtually wiped out by the landslide, performed mass cremations of the bodies.

Maharashtra government has declared Rs 5 lakh assistance for the families of the victims, while also promising full rehabilitation.

State Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Patangrao Kadam told reporters that the rescue operation was expected to continue for another two days depending on weather conditions.

Besides Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) flown over the area to get an idea of the terrain, rescue workers also used sniffer dogs and life detectors to trace survivers.
“Rescuers are engaged in clearing the mud and slush. NDRF teams are equipped with life detectors, which can sense heartbeats of anyone surviving and alert them. Besides, trained sniffer dogs of the NDRF have also been pressed into action,” an NDRF spokesperson said.

NDRF Director General Dr Mahboob Alam is also at the spot supervising the ongoing rescue operation.

The state government has engaged around 30 dumpers, 20 earthmovers and 50 ambulances, while rescue teams continued their efforts overnight with floodlight and other equipment.

Making a statement in Parliament after his visit to the site, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said rescue efforts are on-going.

The Centre is offering all possible assistance, including funds, to the state to carry out immediate rescue and relief efforts.

“This landslide occurred in a region that was not considered highly vulnerable to landslides so far.

“As per the classification made by the Geological Survey of India, the Western Ghats do not fall either under ‘very high’ hazard zone or ‘high’ hazard zone,” Singh said.
The Centre will also order a “scientific study” by the Geological Survey of India to take necessary corrective and mitigation measures in habitations in the Western Ghats region, he said.

“It would not be correct to hazard any guess regarding the particular causes that have triggered this landslide without such scientific study,” he said amid reports in the media about state authorities failing in their duty in protecting the area.

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