AT least 20 people were killed when a landslide triggered by heavy rain flattened Malin village, 110 km from Pune city, on Wednesday morning. Officials said the death toll was expected to mount as at least 150 people were missing after the landslide, which struck in the early hours when most of the villagers, especially children, were sleeping.
By late evening, 20 bodies were recovered from the mound of mud and debris that came down from a nearby hillock, swallowing up almost the entire tribal village of around 50 families. Officials said 20 seriously injured people were rescued from the debris.
Only four houses survived the landslide as the inmates ran to safety the moment the debris started falling. A temple and a primary school were among those flattened by the landslide.
At the village, there was no sign of human life. The land where the village stood till 7.30 am had turned into a mound of mud as a part of the nearby hillock gave way in a matter of seconds. The faces of the deceased were disfigured beyond recognition, officials said.
Frequent spells of rain hampered the rescue and relief operations. What compounded the problem was the presence of a huge crowd and hundreds of vehicles, apparently volunteers from across Pune who had rushed to the site on hearing the news of the tragedy. Vehicles were stuck for a good 10 km with ambulances not able to wriggle out of the traffic mess.
Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil, who is the local MLA, was among the first to reach the site. The village, which is in the Sahyadri ranges, is located in Ambegaon taluka of the district. It is located on an elevation near the catchment area of Dimbe dam.
Due to the remoteness of the village, the tragedy came to light only when the driver of the first state transport bus reached the village a little after 7.30 am to find it wiped out. The driver returned with the vehicle to Manchar city and alerted the authorities. It was after this that the district administration woke up and started the relief and rescue operation. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel also reached the site by afternoon.
Additional District Collector Ganesh Patil said, according to the initial information, the landslide occurred around 7.30 am. “There were 44 to 50 houses in the village. Each house had at least four persons. Therefore, 160-170 people