- The landslide hit hill village of 225 people after rains.
- Over 80 escape catastrophe as officials fear more deaths.
- We cannot judge as of now how many people are still stuck: Singh
The death toll of the deadly landslide in the mountain hamlet of Irshalwadi in India’s Maharashtra state has risen to 26 Saturday while dozens more are feared to be still stuck under the debris and mud, officials said.
The landslide, which hit about 60 km (37 miles) from Mumbai, swept several houses, in the village of 225 people. According to authorities, more than 80 residents have been able to escape the catastrophe.
A news report from Times of India suggested Saturday that around 80 people were still missing.
“We are working on our technical equipment, our rescue techniques,” S B Singh, an official with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), told Reuters.
“We cannot judge as of now how many people are still stuck,” Singh said, adding that “four more bodies were pulled out from underneath the mud on Saturday.
Visuals from news channels showed rescue teams, wearing bright orange raincoats and carrying digging tools, trekking up the mountain to the site of the landslide.
“Rescue operations are being hindered by incessant rainfall, poor visibility, and the hilly terrain,” Singh added.
“There were about 16-17 houses affected by the landslide and many families have been relocated,” the official added.
“The ground shook suddenly and we ran out of our houses,” one survivor told BBC, who lost several members of his family.
“It [a landslide] has never happened before here. I never thought the mountain would collapse; that’s why people lived there,” said another.
“Our priority is to evacuate people from the scene and treat the injured immediately,” federal home minister Amit Shah tweeted.
Rescue workers are having to trek with their equipment for almost two hours to reach the landslide, some accompanied by sniffer dogs.
“The debris at some of the places is 10 to 29 feet deep,” Singh told the Indian Express newspaper.
Recently, due to a drastic rise in heavy rainfall, the death toll has skyrocketed in various countries including India, Pakistan, South Korea, and Japan as a result of deadly landslides and flash floods believed to be a cause of climate change.