Pune, July 30 :
At least 10 people were killed and over 150 trapped under a massive section of a hillock that came crashing down on a village of around 50 homes near Pune early Wednesday, officials said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshvardhan Patil said that officials have pegged the figure of dead at 10 with more than 150 others being trapped under the debris.
Police officer Vinod Pawar told media persons that the accident occurred in Malin village in Ambegaon tehsil of Pune, around 5 a.m., as heavy downpour loosened earth and dislodged rocks and boulders.
Heavy rain, which has lashed the picturesque region over the past four days, continued to hamper relief operations even today.
Villagers from nearby villages, police, central and state disaster authorities, the army and political activists from different parties were engaged in a combined relief and rescue operation.
The estimated 150-plus villagers sleeping in their homes were caught unawares and many are feared trapped under the mud, boulders and debris, and the army has been requested to help, said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator and Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil in whose constituency the tragedy struck.
NDRF launches rescue operation
National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) spokesperson Anil Sharma, citing initial reports, said the landslide was triggered by heavy rain.
“Ten bodies have been pulled out from the debris while over 150 people are feared trapped under the rubble,” he told IANS.
“Two (NDRF) teams, consisting of 45 members each, have reached the spot and five more are on their way… 17 more teams are on standby and would be sent if required,” he added.
“Today (Wednesday) at about 6 a.m., a landslide was reported… district administration requested for help at 10:45 a.m. and two teams left for the spot by 11 a.m.,” a statement by the NDRF said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the loss of lives as “saddening”, and said Home Minister Rajnath Singh will be visiting the spot to take stock.
“Loss of lives in landslide in Pune dist. is saddening. Spoke to Rajnath ji and he would be travelling to Pune to take stock of the situation,” Modi tweeted.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, and their cabinet colleagues Harshvardhan Patil and Madhukarro Pichad went to the spot.
At least 50 ambulances have been rushed from nearby towns while an entire ward has been kept ready for the victims at the Sassoon Hospital, Pune, around 120 km from the tragedy site.
District officials said that people in around half a dozen other villages in the hilly neighbourhood are being evacuated as a precautionary measure.