Around 1.2 lakh kg wood and nearly 3,500 litre of kerosene were used for lighting up pyres for mass funerals carried out in phases of bodies recovered from the landslide that hit Malin village in Ambegaon taluka, Pune, till Friday.
Used vehicle tyres were collected from garages located in Ghodegaon, Manchar, Junnar and nearby villages for adding to the pyres to sustain the fire as the wood was getting wet during transportation due to rain. Specially arranged vehicles were used to transport large number of tyres to Malin.
The otherwise fresh air of Malin village, which is nestled between lush green mountains and located in the vicinity of the huge backwater of Dimbhe dam, became dense with smoke emanating from the pyres.
“I lost my grandmother and uncle among other family members in the landslide. The body of my grandmother is yet to be found. I never ever thought that I would have to attend the cremation of so many bodies at one time,” said 45-year old Tukaram Gari, who was attending the mass funeral carried out on the bank of the river by the village.
A total of 70 bodies were recovered during rescue operations at the landslide hit place by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams till late evening on Friday. All the bodies were sent for postmortem after identification efforts and finally dispatched for mass funerals in phases.
While Bhimashankar cooperative sugar factory, which is managed by state assembly speaker and local MLA Dilip Walse-Patil, has arranged wood supply, tehsil office has been providing kerosene.
“Around 12 trucks, each containing minimum 10 tonnes of babul (acacia) and other wood, has been supplied so far to Malin with help from Bhimashankar factory. Wood has become wet due to rains and can be lit only after sprinkling ample amount of kerosene,” Ranganth Shinde, wood supplier, said.
Representative of Rajgurunagar-based Chandramugut Oil Agency, which has been roped in by revenue department for supply of kerosene, said inflammable liquid was being carried in plastic cans upto the crematorium after getting supplied through tanker. “Since Malin is located at high altitude area, rain continues almost whole day during monsoon season. Such downpour is making wood wet and it is not getting lit unless sprinkled with water. Over 3,500 litre of kerosene has been used in the mass funerals,” he said.
Walse-Patil said people were coming forward in large numbers to help in the rescue operations. “Social organizations, corporate houses and other groups have started relief operations for affected villagers and rescue teams. The ex-gratia has been already announced by the government. We will decide future course of action for rehabilitation shortly once the rescue operation is over,” he said.
NDRF officials, who will carry out rescue operations for at least the next three days, said that more human dead bodies and livestock are still buried under the landslide.