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Central & South Asia

India landslide death toll rises

At least 30 people killed and more than 150 feared trapped after landslide buried houses in Maharashtra state.

Last updated: 31 Jul 2014 10:12
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People from nearby villages helped rescue workers in removing trees and rocks with their bare hands [AP]

Heavy rain has hampered rescue efforts to dig through a remote village in western India where at least 30 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 eight injured people out of the mud and twisted wreckage, Vitthal Banot, a disaster management official, said on Thursday.

They were taken to a nearby government-run hospital, but their injuries were not life threatening.

Everything on the mountain came down.

Suresh Jadhav, district official

Continuing rains and bad roads were hampering rescue efforts in Malin, a village in Pune district in Maharashtra state, Alok Avasthy, a National Disaster Response Force commander told the Associated Press.

Banot said 25 bodies 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.

Homes buried

With 70 homes buried and reports of another 158 hit by the landslide, rescuers anticipated more casualties in the village, home to 704 people in the foothills of the Sahyadri Mountains.

Large crowds of people from nearby villages reached the area and helped rescue workers in moving fallen trees and rocks with bare hands, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The landslide hit on Wednesday morning, but details of the damage only began to trickle out several hours later. The area received 11cm of rain on 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.

About 250 disaster response personnel were in the area assisting local police and medical teams who began clearing the debris. At least 100 ambulances were also sent to the area, Jadhav said.

Landslides are common in the area during the monsoon season, which runs from June through September.

The nearest hospital is about 15km from the village.

The area around the village has been deforested extensively, increasing its vulnerability to landslides.

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