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Tuesday 16 January 2018

41 dead following India landslide

Relatives wail after seeing the body of a victim in the massive landslide in Malin village in India. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Relatives wail after seeing the body of a victim in the massive landslide in Malin village in India. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Rescuers work at the site of a landslide in Malin village, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. (AP Photo/Nitin Lawate)

At least 41 people have died and around another 100 are missing feared dead after a landslide engulfed an entire village in western India.

More than a day after the Wednesday morning landslide, authorities said the chances of survival were slim for anyone still trapped under the mud in Malin, a village of about 700 people in the Pune district of Maharashtra state.

Suresh Jadhav, a district official, said around 40 homes were wiped out.

Two days of torrential rains triggered the landslide and continue to pound the area. Bad communications, dangerous roads and debris delayed national rescue personnel from reaching the area for several hours.

The disaster only came to light when a bus driver passed by and saw that the village had disappeared under masses of mud and earth.

Nine people were pulled out alive. Those rescued included a mother and her three-month-old son whose cries caught the attention of rescue workers.

Pramila Lende, the mother, said she was feeding her baby when she heard the roar of rocks and mud hurtling down the hillside.

"I started running with my child but a heap of mud landed on my body," she said. She kept the baby in an area with breathing space until his cries were heard, she said.

Crowds of people from nearby areas were helping rescuers, using their hands to move fallen trees and rocks. About 250 disaster response workers and at least 100 ambulances were involved in the rescue effort.

Rescuers expected the death toll to rise in the village at the foothills of the Sahyadri Mountains. Sandeep Rai Rathore, a top official of the National Disaster Response Force, estimated that around 100 people were missing and feared dead.

Prime minister Narendra Modi mourned the loss of lives and said all possible efforts must be made to help the victims. He sent home minister Rajnath Singh to the disaster area.

Landslides are common in the area during the monsoon season, which runs from June to September. The area around the village has been deforested extensively, increasing its vulnerability to landslides. Similar deforestation and environmental damage have caused floods and landslides in other parts of India.

Pune district is about 95 miles southeast of Mumbai, India's commercial capital.

Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed as floods and landslides swept through Uttarakhand state during the monsoon season.

Press Association

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