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Rediff.com  » News » Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Last updated on: July 31, 2014 22:37 IST

Image: Rescue workers and volunteers clear the debris from the site of a landslide at Malin village.
Photographs: Reuters

Rescue workers waged a grim battle with a hostile weather and difficult terrain, looking for signs of life under the monstrous heap of mud and stones on Thursday at the landslide-hit Malin village, where 41 bodies have been pulled out till now amid fading hopes of more survivors.

Personnel of National Disaster Response Force, which is leading the rescue efforts, have pulled out nine survivors from the rubble.

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Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Image: A rescue worker at site of the landslide near Pune on Wednesday
Photographs: Nitin Lawate

Intermittent rain continued to hamper the rescue operation being carried out since Wednesday morning when a massive landslide buried under its debris 44 houses with an estimated 160 people trapped inside.

The 41 dead included 16 women and six children, District Collector Control Room said.

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Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Image: A woman, whose house was destroyed in the landslide, picks up her belongings
Photographs: Nitin Lawate

A mass cremation of several victims was performed on Thursday at the village by their grieving relatives.

The hilly terrain that nestled the village, which sustained itself on a modest paddy crop grown on the sloppy land, was making the movement of JCBs and dumpers difficult with rescuers carrying an added burden of ensuring the safety of the prospective survivors as they operated the machinery to clear the huge mound with abundant caution.

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Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Image: Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan makes his way through the slush at the site of a landlside near Pune on Wednesday
Photographs: Nitin Lawate

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Malin village, the scene of the tragedy over 100 km from Pune in Ambegaon taluka, and announced an assistance of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of each of the deceased from PM Relief Fund.

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Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Image: A school building affected by the landslide
Photographs: Nitin Lawate

"It will be premature to comment on the reasons behind the incident before any inquiry is conducted by Geological Survey personnel," he said when asked if deforestation and subsequent soil erosion had led to the disaster.

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Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Image: A woman seen near her house which was destroyed by the landslide
Photographs: Nitin Lawate

Forty-four houses and a temple were flattened early Wednesday morning when loosened earth from a hillside hurtled down the slopes taking large parts of the tribal village in its sweep. Slippers, cooking gas cylinders, cycle parts, wheels jutted out of the rubble.

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Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Image: JCB machines engaged in rescue and relief work at the site of the landslide near Pune
Photographs: Nitin Lawate

Also to visit the village was Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, who too, promised all help from the state government and measures to avoid recurrence of such disasters.

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Tags: NDRF

Pune landslide toll rises to 41, hopes of finding survivors fade

Image: Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar at the site of the landslide
Photographs: Nitin Lawate

Meanwhile, in Mumbai Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan briefed his Cabinet about the tragedy. According to official sources, he told the Cabinet that people living in dangerous locations, which are prone to landslides, would have to be shifted elsewhere to prevent such incidents.

Chavan said about 300 NDRF personnel are engaged in rescue operations.

Tags: JCB , Rao
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