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Pune Landslide: 10 feared dead, many still trapped

PuneAt 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 on Wednesday, officials said.

The villagers, police, disaster authorities and the army were engaged in a combined relief and rescue operation.

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 official 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 has continued to lash the region over the past four days.

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.

Rajnath Singh is heading for Pune to visit the landslide affected area and review the rescue operations as nearly 170 people are feared trapped in the debris. During the visit this evening, the Home Minister will meet the affected people and take stock of the situation arising out of the landslide at Ambegaon, official sources said.

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 Dilip Walse-Patil.

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.

Till noon, two persons were rescued alive from the debris as a downpour hampered rescue operations.

Two National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams have been sent to carry out rescue operations, an official said Wednesday.

According to initial reports, the landslide was triggered by heavy rains, said NDRF spokesperson Anil Sharma.

"Pune district magistrate informed us about the landslide and we immediately sent two rescue teams to the spot," Sharma told IANS.

He added that 17 more teams were on the standby and would be sent as required.

"Exact information will be received once the rescue team reaches the spot," he said.

District officials said that people in around half a dozen other villages in the hilly neighbourhood are being evacuated as a precautionary measure.

"District administration have been initiated rescue operation. The village's population is 700, out of which 170 people feared trapped," Ganesh Patil, Additional Collector of Pune informed.

"Continuous heavy rainfall causing hurdles in rescue operations. Nearly 80 people of NDRF are reaching at the spot. Local tehsildar have started rescue work with the help of his staff and villagers," Patil added.

Pune District Collector Saurav Rao is at the site and monitoring rescue operation. A helpline has been started by dist admin in Pune 020-26120720.

(With inputs from Pune mid-day team)

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