The youth responded to the police’s call for help after a landslide struck the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, but was tragically knocked down by a car at the spot; two others perished in the natural disaster, while four more were injured
The Mumbai-Pune Expressway witnessed a gory Sunday that claimed three lives after a landslide struck near Khopoli. While two motorists lost their lives in the natural disaster, the third death was that of a young hero who was tragically hit by a car even as he rushed to help the victims of the landslip.
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After the victims were rushed to the hospital, the authorities began clearing out the rubble from the landslip immediately, but said it was unlikely that the E-way would be opened before Monday
Noon turned out to be a treacherous hour at the E-way, as another accident took place around the same time just 100 metres away from the landslide, injuring 18 others. Following fresh on the heels of the June 22 landslide that had disrupted traffic on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, yesterday’s incident took place around noon, claiming two lives, injuring another four and brought inter-city traffic in both directions to a near halt as the authorities worked to clear the debris.
The incident took place near the Adoshi tunnel near Khopoli, on the Mumbai-bound side of the E-way. The two deceased motorists and four injured including three women all hail from Mumbai. 25-year-old Khalapur resident, Ganpat Pandurang Kudpane was one of the locals who had answered the police’s call for assistance immediately, and rushed to the spot to help the victims.
However, he paid for his heroic actions with his life, as an unidentified car hit him while he was walking on the Pune-bound side of the expressway. This side had not yet been blocked by debris, allowing the culprit to drive away. Ganpat was rushed to a hospital in Panvel, where he was declared dead.
“Big boulders started falling from a height of 20 feet on to the road leading from Pune to Mumbai, near the entry of the tunnel. A massive rock fell on a Manza (MH04-EQ8241) heading towards Mumbai.
One Shashikant Dhamankar (48) died on the spot and his mother Sushila and sister Mangal Mane got injured as they fell out of the car,” said Inspector Jaysinh Tambe of Raigad police station, which holds jurisdiction at the spot. He added, “A Skoda (MH02-MA-7051) heading in the opposite direction was also crushed by a falling boulder, injuring one Dilip Patel (52).
He was rushed to Lokmanya Tilak Hospital in Pune, but died within three hours. His mother-in-law was also in the car and is undergoing treatment.” Traffic on both sides came to a standstill following the landslip, leading to utter chaos, particularly since this is the point where the Old Mumbai-Pune Highway meets the expressway.
The authorities began to clear the debris at the landslide site with the help of earth-moving machinery but sources said the going has been slow due to heavy rainfall. By 2 pm, two truckloads of rubble were cleared from the area, and although the tunnel side (towards Mumbai) was still clogged, the Pune-bound side was opened for a while to clear the traffic gridlock that was already stretching 15 km on either side.
“Around 2 pm, commuters heading towards Pune were allowed to proceed. An hour later the second lane on the same side was opened for commuters going in the opposite direction (to Mumbai),” said PI Jaysinh. Meanwhile, all new traffic was redirected, by the Highway police and local residents, onto the old highway via internal roads in Khopoli. Cops have appealed to motorists to continue to use the old highway for another 24 hours.
“Traffic is moving at a snail’s pace. We appeal to citizens to co-operate with us and follow road discipline,” said Superintendent of Police (Highway) Sunil Sonawane, adding it was unlikely that the expressway would be opened before Monday.
The kin of the deceased will receive R4 lakh in compensation from the state, said PWD minister Eknath Shinde, who had rushed to the spot and inspected the area soon after the incident. “It is our priority to clear the roads so they can be utilised by citizens again. We will set up an inquiry in this regard, and if officials are found to be negligent, we will take stringent action,” Shinde added.
Right after the landslide, another 18 people were injured in an accident that took place just 100 metres away from the landslip site. A 17-seater bus carrying college students, teachers and their children dashed into a rock on the E-way after the driver lost control. The crash injured 18, including three little children and the driver himself. All were taken to MGM Hospital in Khopoli and are out of danger.
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