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Death toll climbs to 32, Home Minister visits site in Pune

Even as rescue operations continue after Wednesday’s landslide in the Ambegaon village of Pune district, another landslide was reported on Thursday morning near the same area. The death toll in Wednesday’s landslide has now risen to 32 while over 150 people are still feared trapped.

More than 40 houses have been swept away by the landslide while eight people have been rescued. Over 380 National Disaster Response Force personnel have been overseeing the rescue operations and said that the operations could take another 48 to 72 hours. The NDRF has said that deforestation over the years coupled with heavy rainfall resulted in the soil giving way, leading to the disaster.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the spot on Thursday to take stock of the situation.

Singh said that only after a detailed probe will the cause of the tragedy be known, while also assuring full central assistance in rescue and relief work.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar may also head to the village today.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed anguish over the tragedy.

Situated around 120 kilometres from Pune city, Malin was once a bustling village of about 50 homes. Now barely six structures, including the village panchayat office, exist, rest of the village was wiped off the map.

Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar besides cabinet colleagues Harshvardhan Patil and Madhukarro Pichad visited the accident spot yesterday.

A 300-strong team comprising National Disaster Response Force, state rescue force, police, villagers and others braved inclement weather, searching for people trapped under stones, boulders and sticky mud.

Meanwhile, the funeral of those who died in the landslide has started taking place. The cremation is happening near the site of the incident and help of the local people is being taken for the same. As per the police, the accident occurred in the village located in Ambegaon taluka of Pune district at about 5 am, as heavy downpour loosened earth and dislodged rocks and boulders.

However. eyewitnesses claimed the landslide may have occurred at about 7 am as a driver of a state transport bus passing through failed to find the village which was his regular service stop.

Heavy rain, which lashed the picturesque region over the past four days, continued to hamper relief operations whole day and prevented rescuers from approaching the site, as flowing water kept shifting the mud.

As a precautionary measure, the district administration has ordered evacuation of about half-a-dozen other villages in the hilly area.

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