It was only three hours after the landslide struck Malin that rescue work could actually start in the village on the fateful morning of July 30. Even as poor phone connectivity has been cited as a reason for the delayed action, the district administration has admitted that it took time for them to understand the “magnitude of the tragedy”.
According to the survivors, the landslide occurred sometime around 7.30 am. A State Transport bus driver, who reached the village a little after 7.30 only to find it wiped out, had apparently informed the Ghodegaon ST officials, who in turn alerted the district administration. Deputy Resident Collector Suresh Jadhav Sunday said he had received an SMS regarding the landslide at 8.30 am July 30.
“The local tehsildar informed me that a landslide had occurred in Malin village and that some 40 houses had been affected,” said Jadhav, adding that the tehsildar too was not aware of the magnitude of the tragedy till his team actually reached the spot. Officials said this was because landslides were common in Ambegaon taluka.
The Disaster Management Cell, which Jadhav heads, apparently believed the debris from the landslide had entered houses and the residents were waiting for them to be cleared. “Initially, we thought the debris, which were a few feet high, had entered their houses. We could not gauge that the debris had engulfed the entire houses and (the mounds) were much higher than expected. It was only around 11.30 am that we got to know the scale of the tragedy,” said Jadhav.
He said they had informed the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) by 9.15 am. S Gawde, Deputy Commandant of NDRF, said they had received information about the tragedy around 10.45 am and quickly moved their teams. “Our teams could reach the site by 2.30 pm,” Gawde said.
Jadhav said he had alerted the Junnar and Alandi municipal councils as well as requisitioned the services of earthmovers and ambulances. “As many as 100 ambulances were on the way immediately. By 10.30 am, at least seven JCBs were on the spot and had started the excavation work. The JCBs had arrived from nearby areas,” he said. However, the huge number of ambulances then got stuck in a traffic jam, which stretched to nearly 10 km, on the road leading to Malin. “We had to ask some of the ambulances to return,” Additional District Collector Ganesh Patil had earlier said.
The administration claims they had been quick to move. “As soon as we received information about the tragedy, we started mobilising the resources and could continued…