21 Jul 2023

Maharashtra Raigad Irshalwadi Landslide: Death Toll Rises To 16, Over 50 Still Buried

Mumbai: The death toll in Maharashtra's Raigad's Irshalwadi landslide reached 16 on Friday morning and more than 50 people are still feared trapped under the debris.

Meanwhile, the rescue and relief operations, which were halted overnight due to heavy rains, resumed this morning.

The tragic incident of landslide in Adivasi Wadi of Irshalwadi in Raigad district on Wednesday night has also completely destroyed about 35 to 40 houses located at the foothills of Irshalgarh in Khalapur taluka of the district.

According to the villagers, 229 tribals belonging to 48 families lived in this small village. Some of them managed to escape, but hundreds of tribals were trapped under the landslide.

According to the Khalapur police, 103 people had been rescued from the debris when rescue teams reached the spot. A jawan of Navi Mumbai Fire Brigade who was going to save the villagers died of a heart attack yesterday.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde along with four of his cabinet colleagues camped there throughout the day yesterday and supervised the rescue operations.

Khalapur taluka of Raigarh district has recorded over 400 mm of rain in the last three days. In the midst of such heavy rains, at around 10 o'clock in the night, it got destroyed due to a crack in the Wadi of Irshalgarh near the square of Khalapur taluka.

Villagers told that 229 residents live in about 45 houses in Irshalwadi.

A villager said that most of the residents of the wadi were fast asleep, while some children were sleeping in the closed school premises nearby when the unfortunate incident took place.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) along with teams of Raigad police and local authorities began the operation for the second day at the remote village, the official said.

"At least four NDRF teams reached the landslide site this morning and started the operation. Teams of the Thane Disaster Response Force (TDRF), local disaster management authorities, Raigad police are also engaged in the operation," he said.

The search operation began at 6.30 am, Raigad Superintendent of Police Somanth Gharge said.

"We have roped in a dog squad to assist the personnel in the search operation," an NDRF official said.

On Thursday, the rescue and search teams recovered 16 bodies from the landslide, while 21 people were rescued.

"The deceased included four children between the age group of one to four years and a 70-year-old person," he said, adding seven persons are undergoing treatment at various hospitals.

The search and rescue personnel at the site were facing hurdles due to the difficult hill terrain of the area where heavy equipment cannot be easily moved.

"Incessant rain, fog and gusty winds at the hilltop, those involved in the search and rescue operation are facing difficulties," the official said.

From the hill base, it takes around one-and-a-half hours to reach Irshalwadi, which does not have a pucca road.

As the village does not have a pucca road, earth movers and excavators could not be easily moved and hence the operation is being carried out manually, the official said.

The NDRF personnel had to stop their search and rescue operation at the landslide site on Thursday evening due to bad weather.

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