Maharashtra: Sixteen dead, and 109 still trapped after landslide in India

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Around sixteen people have died, and more than 100 are trapped after a massive landslide in Maharashtra, India

Around sixteen people have died, and over 100 are trapped after a massive landslide in Maharashtra, India

The landslide occurred in Irshalwadi village in Raigad district, West India, on Wednesday night (19 July) and flattened out several homes. But rescue efforts were halted until Thursday night due to heavy rain. 

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Officials say the disaster spot is located on a hilltop and the tough terrain is hindering rescue operations.

Rescue workers and villagers are seen on the hillock leading up to the site of the landslide at Irshalwadi village in Raigad district of India's Maharashtra state on July 20, 2023 (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)Rescue workers and villagers are seen on the hillock leading up to the site of the landslide at Irshalwadi village in Raigad district of India's Maharashtra state on July 20, 2023 (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescue workers and villagers are seen on the hillock leading up to the site of the landslide at Irshalwadi village in Raigad district of India's Maharashtra state on July 20, 2023 (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images) | (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)

Around 109 people are still trapped under the debris, the Maharashtra government has said.

Several states in India have received heavy rainfall over the past two weeks, triggering floods and landslides. India's weather department has said these conditions will continue over the next few days in parts of Maharashtra state, including Raigad district.

Wednesday's landslide hit a remote village located on the slope of a hill. Around 17 houses out of 50 in the area have sustained damage.

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The uphill terrain has become slippery due to the rains, and is making it hard for heavy machinery such as JCBs to reach the spot - so a large portion of the mud has to be cleared out manually. 

NDRF teams, the police and medical teams are currently involved in relief efforts. Locals and trekkers have also been included in the rescue operations.

Relief camps have been set up at the bottom of the hill and about 98 people have been rescued so far, according to officials.

It was estimated at least 225 people lived in the hamlet, Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra's deputy chief minister told the state assembly, adding over 80 had managed to escape. 

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Chief Minister Eknath Shinde reached the spot to review the rescue operation. He gave “instructions to the administration to treat the injured citizens immediately. Options were also discussed on how to evacuate those under the rubble”.

Mr Shinde announced an aid of Rs 5 lakh (£4,700) to the families of those who died in the accident.

“The situation at the site is heart-wrenching. We tried to speak to villagers, but it is difficult to reach there,” local lawmaker Aditya Thackeray told the media.

“The rescue operations are on. We did not want to put more pressure on the state machinery by insisting to go on the exact spot.”

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Eyewitnesses told BBC Marathi that the landslide hit their village at around 11.30pm local time (5pm GMT).

"The ground shook suddenly and we ran out of our houses," said one survivor, who lost several members of his family.

"It [a landslide] has never happened before here. I never thought the mountain would collapse; that's why people lived there," said another. Many continue to search for family members.

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