NEW DELHI – Rescuers worked in rain Thursday to dig through a remote village in western India where at least 21 people died as a landslide swept away scores of houses, possibly trapping many more people under debris, officials said.
They had already worked through the night using floodlights mounted on jeeps and earthmoving vehicles to pull seven injured people out of the mud and twisted wreckage, Vitthal Banot, a disaster management official, said Thursday. They were taken to a nearby government-run hospital; their injuries were not life-threatening.
But continuing rains and bad roads were hampering rescue efforts in Ambegaon, a village in Pune district in Maharashtra state, said Alok Avasthy, a National Disaster Response Force commander.
Banot said 21 bodies – 11 men and 10 women – had been recovered from under mud, rocks, trees and other debris.
“Everything on the mountain came down,” said Suresh Jadhav, a district official, describing how a cascade of mud, rocks and uprooted trees swamped the area.
With 70 homes buried and reports of another 158 hit by the landslide, rescuers anticipated more dead in the village, home to 704 people in the foothills of the Sahyadri Mountains.
A large crowd from nearby villages reached the spot and helped rescue workers in moving fallen trees and rocks with bare hands, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
The landslide hit Wednesday morning, but details of the damage only began to trickle out several hours later. The area received 4.25 inches of rain Tuesday, with a heavy downpour continuing through Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned the loss of lives in Maharashtra state and said all possible efforts must be made to help the victims, according to a statement from his office. He sent Home Minister Rajnath Singh to the disaster area.