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Maharashtra: 5 dead, several trapped after a major landslide hit a village in Raigad, rescue operations underway

The deceased include a 48-year-old rescuer from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation fire brigade named Shivaji Dhumane. The area has been battered by nonstop rain over the last 24 hours. Seventy-five persons have already been saved during search operations.

At least five people were killed and multiple are reported to be trapped under the debris after a landslide hit Irshalgad Wadi in Khalapur, a tribal hamlet in the Raigad district of Maharashtra late on the night of 19 July. The place is close to Irshalgad Fort which is a popular trekking destination. 

The deceased include a 48-year-old rescuer from the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation fire brigade named Shivaji Dhumane. The area has been battered by nonstop rain over the last 24 hours. Seventy-five persons have already been saved during search operations.

A significant landslide occurred in the community at around 10:30 p.m. while most residents were asleep and it was storming heavily outside. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde also rushed to the spot early on 20 July.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted, “Talked to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. 4 teams of NDRF have reached the spot and the rescue operation is going on war level along with local administration. Our priority is to evacuate people from the scene and treat the injured immediately.”

The chief minister provided Rs 5 lakh in relief for the surviving family members of the victims. He mentioned that the affected community was not listed as one of the state’s landside-prone neighbourhoods.

He stated, “I received a call from Home Minister Amit Shah assuring all possible help from the centre including deployment of helicopters for the rescue attempt. However, due to the weather conditions, it is difficult to use helicopters as of now. Because of the location of the disaster site, we are facing problems in deploying heavy machinery to facilitate the search and rescue operations and everything is being done manually.”

The chief minister’s office posted, “Heavy rains and difficult roads are hampering rescue operations, but helicopters will be called in soon after the weather improves. All the systems have been involved in the rescue operation. Rescue operations are underway by NDRF teams. Though there is no road, the relief work is going on and now the Union Home Minister Amit Shah has taken information about the incident.”

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis wrote, “The incident of landslide occurred at Irshalgad near Khalapur in Raigad district last night. Some people died in this incident, we share the grief of their families. I pay my heartfelt tribute to him.”

He further continued, “I have been in touch with the local administration since last night after learning about this incident. 2 teams of NDRF have reached the spot immediately and two more teams are reaching soon. Heavy rains and darkness initially hampered the relief effort, but it is now picking up speed. According to preliminary information, a total of 48 families are here. Around 75 people have been evacuated and 5 people have died so far.”

He announced, “Arrangements have been made for immediate treatment of the injured. The state government will provide all possible help to the heirs of the deceased and the entire cost of treatment of the injured will be borne by the state government. We are constantly monitoring the situation and rescue operations.”

“Total of 17 houses with a collective population of around 50 are suspected to have been affected. The inaccessible Irshalgad Wadi is located under the Irshalgad Fort. Rescue and relief operations are underway,” informed Khalapur police inspector, Bala Kumbha.

The bodies are being identified, according to assistant police inspector Haresh Kalsekar of Raigad Control. “However, the deceased fireman from NMMC, Dhumane was first hit by the landslide and then died of suspected cardiac arrest,” he added.

The government intends to remove and rehabilitate the tribe members somewhere secure. In addition to the equipment, the disaster management personnel for the Raigad district have been dispatched. Rescue workers have also arrived at the scene of the tragic occurrence. Locals contributed to the rescue effort as well.

In accordance with the NDRF, the landslide’s aftermath left 15-20 buildings trapped under the rubble. SB Singh, Commandant of the fifth battalion of the National Disaster Response Force revealed, “Of the total 40 houses in the village, 17 have been affected. We have deployed four teams to conduct the rescue operations. The debris at some of the places is 10 to 29 feet deep.”

He mentioned, “It is difficult to bring heavy machinery to this place. It is a 2.8 km trek to reach the spot and we have to remove the debris manually which is likely to take a lot of time. While we are facing difficulties, we will continue our operations till we retrieve the last person.”

Rescue teams had to travel more than an hour from the closest accessible road to the village, which has made operations challenging due to the remote location of the village and regular downpours.

Following prolonged downpours, the district had been placed on orange alert for the previous two days and more rain had been anticipated. Due to forecasts of heavy to torrential rainfall, the State Disaster Management Authority declared a holiday for students in the Raigad area on 20 July.

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