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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Mumbai: Vikhroli landslide kills 10; last body extricated 12 hours later

The landslide, which occurred between 2 am and 2.30 am, came crashing on the slums and also swept away an electric meter box nearby thus hitting the hapless dwellers trying to rescue their family and friends with electric shocks.

Written by Jayprakash S Naidu | Mumbai |
Updated: July 19, 2021 9:17:26 am
Mumbai: Vikhroli landslide kills 10; last body extricated 12 hours laterRescue work in progress at Vikhroli’s Panchsheel chawl in Mumbai on Sunday. (Express photo)

It was 3 pm Sunday when the last body of a child was extricated from the debris at Panchsheel chawl in Surya Nagar, more than 12 hours after a landslide, triggered by the intense rainfall since Saturday midnight, swept away the shanties.

Ten people, including three children, died and at least four others were injured in the incident at the slum pocket, which has mushroomed on a landslide-prone hill in Vikhroli west. The BMC had declared the hill unsafe.

The landslide, which occurred between 2 am and 2.30 am, came crashing on the slums and also swept away an electric meter box nearby thus hitting the hapless dwellers trying to rescue their family and friends with electric shocks.

The 10 deceased have been identified as Ankit Tiwari (23), a BSC graduate, his father Ramnath (45), a florist, mother Kavita (42), Kiran Vishwakarma (32), his son Prince (11) and daughter Pinky (14) and nephew Ashish (15). Also among the dead are a couple Kalpana Jadhav (35) and Sahebrao Jadhav (44), and another Kamlesh Yadav (40).

“The fire brigade received a call around 2.57 am and a total of 45 firemen were rushed to the spot with an NDRF team. It was raining heavily during the rescue operations. And the challenging part was to remove the debris. It’s easier to move concrete slabs using the gaps but this was mostly mud. It was impossible to take our machinery up there and so all the work of removing the debris had to be done manually. There was about 15 to 20-foot of rubble,” H D Parab, the chief fire officer of Mumbai Fire brigade, said.

Over 100 people, mostly local residents, along with party workers and RSS volunteers had pitched in to aid the rescued operation.

As the damaged slums were high up on the hill, the rescuers stood in a serpentine line along the zig-zag lanes and passed bags filled with debris to the bottom of the slum.

Minor mudslides in the area are not uncommon during the monsoon. In 2017, local residents recalled, a person had died in a landslide.

A senior BMC official, however, said local residents were informed well in advance.

“In April, we did a survey to identify landslide-prone areas in our ward. Surya Nagar was identified among other unsafe areas and the collector office was informed as they own the land. Apart from this, we also put posters in Surya Nagar alerting people to vacate the unsafe location. We also gave an advertisement in the newspaper. Despite these
measures, the people did not vacate the area. We have also informed MHADA and PWD as they are constructing retaining walls in landslide-prone areas,” a civic official said, adding that today’s incident was a natural calamity due to intense rainfall.

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