Tiware dam in Ratnagiri collapsed on Tuesday night, but NDRF team could reach spot only on Wednesday morning; locals from nearby villages had managed to recover 13 bodies before help arrived
Approximately 11 of 18 hamlets called Bhendewadi in Tiware village (the houses are circled) seen in this satellite image, were washed away
The road widening work on the Mumbai-Goa stretch, and poor mobile phone network led to a major delay in help reaching those affected by the flash floods after the Tiware dam (a mid-size irrigation storage dam) collapse. The dam in Ratnagiri district collapsed on Tuesday night between 9.00 and 9.30 pm. An NDRF team could only reach the location on Wednesday morning, but by then the water had washed away 11 of 18 hamlets in the locality.
Local villagers from nearby rushed to help and by Wednesday morning they had recovered 13 bodies. At least 24 people were missing. The NDRF, local Fire Brigade, and villagers are looking for the remaining 11 people who continue to be missing.
Speaking to mid-day, Sunil Chavan, district collector Ratnagiri, said, "Soon after the water started gushing out, the local administration was alerted, and the police and Fire Brigade team reached the spot within few hours. The NDRF was also alerted, but they could only reach in the morning due to the road widening and concretisation work."
"Approximately 11 of 18 hamlets called Bhendewadi in Tiware village, Chiplun, that were nearly 200 metres away from Tiware dam got washed away, while others got submerged under soil, silt and water. Approximately 60 people stayed in the affected houses, of which 24 went missing soon after the incident on Tuesday night," said the collector.
Tiware dam was ready for operation in 2004 and according to locals, on Tuesday, a major crack was seen in the main embankment before it collapsed. Pic/courtesy NDRF, Pune
Asked if there were any lapses on looking at complaints of a leak in the dam on Tuesday made by locals, the collector only said, "Our focus at this moment is to carry out the relief and rescue work. All the bodies recovered have been sent to the sub-district hospital, Chiplun, and as per the government norms, the next of kin will be entitled to a sum of R4 lakh and therefore a postmortem report is a must."
Cultivated areas destroyed
Locals maintain that had complained about the leak from the dam, but their pleas went unheard. They have been using the water for irrigation and due to the dam, the ground water levels had also increased, which helped households that had wells.
An official from the state irrigation department said, "The impact of water gushing out was so severe that the areas under cultivation near the dam are completely destroyed. A team of the department is trying to ascertain the exact reason for the collapse. The area had received 115 mm rainfall on July 2 and on July 3, 65 mm of rainfall has been recorded."
Of the 24 people who died in the flash floods, 17 were from one family. Atmaram Chavan and Chandrabhaga Chavan the oldest (each 75-years-old), and the youngest in the family, Dhruv Ranjeet Chavan, 15, are missing.
NDRF has deployed two teams from Sindhudurg under the leadership of Inspector Rajesh Yeole (with 17 people) and Maval, Pune under the leadership of Second-in-Command S Gawade (35 people).
Speaking to mid-day, Gawade said, "We reached around 10 am on Wednesday, and before we could start work, local villagers had recovered nine bodies. As the area is vast and also because of the soil and silt spread across, we are looking for anyone who might be stuck beneath it. Till afternoon the local administration had deployed more manpower for the relief and rescue work and therefore we (NDRF) could focus on more localised areas."
"The problem is lack of mobile network and we had to cover a wide area, one body was found almost one and half km away from the accident spot. We have now made a local control and command centre for better communication and areas have been divided under different agencies which are working at the location," said the officer.
No. of bodies recovered
No. of people missing
The ill-fated Tiware dam was ready for operation in 2004 and according to locals, on Tuesday, a major crack was seen in the main embankment. Water started gushing out resulting in the hamlets getting washed away. Nearly 89 thousand million cubic feet of water was stored in the dam and it gushed out. The dam was approximately 308 metres in length with a height of 28 metres.