Pune: Life hasn’t been the same for the Lembhe brothers since July 30 – the day a landslide crushed the village of Malin, situated in Ambegaon taluka near Pune. Dilip Lembhe (45) and his brother Govind have had no news of ten members of their family, who are trapped under the rubble.
Dilip’s six daughters, son and wife, Govind’s wife and the mother of the two men are yet to be found. With not even a positive hint coming from rescue officials, hope is fading fast.
“I had stepped out with my brother for work that day. I still remember the noise when the landslide occurred. We reached the spot only to find mud covering our entire village. I still can’t find the spot where my house used to be,” said Dilip.
At present, both brothers are living at a relative’s house two kilometres from the spot where the landslide occurred. “I don’t even know what to expect now. I’m waiting to hear about my family right now. Once I know their fate, I’ll never return to this place,” he added.
On Monday, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials made use of a drone camera in order to capture pictures of the site. “There are some areas which are still slippery and, therefore, rescue workers can’t reach those spots. Hence, we decided to make use of a drone in order to reach all corners of this site,” said an official in charge of rescue operations.
This process went on for less than half an hour, but had to be stopped when rains lashed the area. Authorities have decided to continue clicking aerial pictures today as well.
Many personal items such as ration cards, jewellery, clothes and books were removed from the rubble yesterday. A notice has been displayed, asking relatives to claim the items. “What we need to know are the whereabouts of our family members. I don’t care about personal items any more,” said a despairing Dilip.
On the sixth day of continuing rescue efforts at Malin, the death count rose to 131, including 50 men, 62 women and 19 children. Thirty three dead animals were also extracted from the debris that had crushed the village on Wednesday.
Non-stop rain in the region has hampered the rescue operation throughout. On Monday morning, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had to halt rescue for half an hour, until the rain’s intensity reduced, according to NDRF Commandant Alok Avasthi.
Subhash Mormare, Pune Zilla Parishad Social Welfare Committee chairperson confirmed that of the 158 originally trapped under the debris, 131 had been extracted.
However, because it is currently the paddy season, authorities suspect that 20-30 relatives must have been present at the site as well. This would mean that at least 50 more are expected to be found buried in the mud.