The toll in the Malin landslide rose to 105 on Sunday, with rescue teams recovering 23 more bodies from under the debris since morning.
According to National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Pune district administration officials, nearly 55 villagers are still feared to be trapped under the debris, which consists of rocks, mud and mangled remains of the collapsed houses.
The deceased include 43 men, 47 women and 15 children so far. While eight persons were rescued from the debris on the first day, no survivor has been found in the last four days.
“Since Sunday morning, our team has recovered 23 bodies from the debris, taking the toll to 105. The frequency of recovering the bodies increased today as we seem to have hit a row of houses, which are crowded together. We couldn’t reach the place earlier as there was no path to access it. We carved the road yesterday and have now managed to reach this spot,” said Alok Awasthy, NDRF Commandant. “We are hoping we will continue to recover more bodies at this speed on Monday. Till now, we have explored about 60 per cent of the disaster site and have also recovered about 60 per cent of the bodies. Our aim is to explore the remaining portion by tomorrow evening by when the picture will become much clearer,” he added.
Awasthy said the work on removing the debris had been halted for some time on Sunday afternoon as the NDRF teams focused on pushing away the heaps of debris explored so far.
“There was a threat of these heaps of stone and mud falling on the rescue teams. Also, we needed to carve out an access path so that we could move ahead,” said Awasthy, adding that the NDRF relief work would go on till the entire area was excavated to make sure no body remained trapped under the debris.
The recovered bodies — most of them decomposed and mutilated — were taken to the nearby public health centre where DNA samples were collected and relatives were asked to identify them largely based on the clothes, ornaments and birthmarks. It had become almost impossible to identify the bodies based on facial features due to decomposition and mutilations. The bodies were immediately cremated.
Meanwhile, the flow of visitors, including politicians and those claiming to be representatives of different NGOs, continued on Sunday.
The NDRF officials and policemen deployed at the site blamed the visitors for slowing down their work as the movement of the machinery and resources was hindered by the flow of private vehicles on the already narrow road.