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Pune landslide: Toll climbs to 109, 50 more feared trapped

Pune: With the recovery of three more bodies from under the massive landslide debris at Malin village near here, the death toll in the calamity has climbed to 109, even as the NDRF operation to locate possible survivors entered the sixth day today amid intermittent showers.

Landslide in Pune district's Malin village

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has issued an advice to rescue team and district officials to evacuate remaining houses near the landslide site. "If it continues to rain for another 3-4 days, there is a possibility of further sliding in the adjacent portions of the landslide that has already taken place," a statement issued by the GSI said. The 109 dead included 44 men, 49 women and 16 children, district administration officials said.

Carcasses of 22 animals too have been extricated from the huge mound of mud and stones that buried about 44 houses after the tragedy struck on July 30, they said. Intermittent showers continued to lash the region, hampering movement of heavy machinery deployed by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on the marshy land, developed at the site due to rain and mud.

About 50 more persons are still believed to be trapped under the rubble but there is dim hope of finding any survivors. Eight injured persons had earlier been pulled out to safety, officials said. Unable to come to terms with the reality, some close relatives of the victims continued to stand and wait endlessly under trees, straining their eyes in anticipation of a miracle that would bring back alive their loved ones.

A team of GSI led by its Director General Harbans Singh had yesterday attributed the catastrophe to "natural causes" after visiting and inspecting the mishap site, negating the theory that levelling of soil on hill tops in some areas of the region for paddy cultivation could have been a contributory factor in the disaster.

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