Intense rainfall coupled with excess rainwater from Mahabaleshwar draining into river Savitri and causing it to overflow triggered disaster at Mahad in Raigad, with the city and surrounding villages under water, two landslides in the district in which more than 40 people are dead, rescue operations hampered by the floodwaters and disruption in telecom services and power supply.
Taliye in Mahad taluka, where a huge landslide occurred on Thursday evening, is a village of 240 people, located 22 km from Mahad city. Around 35 houses were buried under the debris of a hillock that came crashing down on the houses. Officials said over a 100 people escaped the landslide as they were out for work. Around 85 people were hit by the landslide.
A rescue team of National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF) pulled out 33 bodies on Friday morning. Some 50 people are still missing and feared trapped under the debris.
“Thirty-three bodies have been recovered from the debris of Taliye village and the rescue operation on,” said Raigad Collector Nidhi Chowdhury. “The postmortem of the bodies will be conducted at the accident site. Teams of doctors have already been dispatched,” said Dr Suhas Mane, civil surgeon of the district hospital.
As rain has disrupted power supply, rescue operations were continuing on Friday night with the help of generator-powered lights.
In another landslide in neighbouring Poladpur taluka, 10 people died and six others were seriously injured. The landslide took place at Sutarwadi in Govele gram panchayat area around 10 pm on Thursday.
Rescuers had found the bodies of 10 people in the debris by Friday evening. Thirteen others were moved to Poladpur rural hospital for treatment.
A clearer picture about casualites, health emergencies and other mishaps, damage to property and vehicles as well as livestock and animals at both the landslide sites would be clear only after a day or two, officials said.
With phones and power supply down, those with family members, relatives and friends at the two landslide sites have been unable to reach them.
Pranita Panchal, a resident of Kalyan, whose relatives live in Taliye village, said no communication has been possible since Thursday evening. “Finally, my brother went to the village to check on my relatives. He found out that my cousin has died. He sent a photo of her body, which had been pulled out of the rubble.”
“She was staying with her in-laws, her five-month-old baby, 10-year-old daughter and husband. We have no idea about where they all are except for the husband who survived, as he had gone to work on Thursday,” Panchal said.
Over a 1,000 people have been evacuated by the district administration from Mahad taluka, including Mahad city.
With the entire Mahad city under water, power sub-stations have been damaged and there has been no electricity since Thursday night.
With no electricity, people, including government officials, have no access to electricity even to charge their phones.
The police are using wireless devices to communicate with the people.
The authorities said that Mahad city may not have electricity supply even on Saturday. Two 220 KV towers between Kandalgaon and Mahad have collapsed, disrupting power supply to 80,000 people. Mahad and Poladpur talukas were in darkness Friday night – the second night in a row.
Mahad, Poladpur, Birwadi, Vinhere, Vahur, Nate, Nangalwadi, Nagaon and Kumble as well as 260 villages, including Poladpur city, Turbhe, Pitalwadi and Warandh have been affected due to the collapse of 44 high pressure 22 KV feeders and power supply towers.
An official from Raigad district administration said flooding is an annual phenomenon in Mahad. “People in Mahad city are used to tackling flooding up to six feet. Local residents evacuate their ground floor rooms and stay on the first floor. However, this time there is 14-15 ft of water and in several places, the first floor has got submerged. The whole Mahad taluka looks like a river. We could not even find the roads under the water.”
The NDRF team that arrived on Thursday from Pune got stuck at a bridge between Lonere and Dasgaon in Raigad that was submerged in flood water. Two other roads to reach Mahad were also inaccessible due to flooding and landslides.
The NDRF could reach Mahad taluka only on Friday morning. The authorities tried to airlift the NDRF team but due to inclement weather, it had to wait till morning. Finally, they accessed the area by boats.
According to the district administration, around 110 villages are landslide-prone, and of these, 20 are particularly at risk. The administration has appealed to the people living in low-lying and flood-prone areas to relocate to safer areas for the next few days.
“The administration is in the process of relocating people. We have provided various necessities like clothes, drinking water, biscuits, food grains and medical treatment to the flood victims,” said an official.
The two highways – Mangaon-Mahad and Goregaon-Dapoli – which had to be closed have been opened for traffic after water started receding and rain stopped on Friday.
Teams of Navy and Coast Guard have also reached Mahad. They joined the rescue efforts with helicopters and boats.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has announced Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of those who died in accidents due to heavy rain.