Indian rescuers look for landslide survivors as over 100 feared trapped

Rescue teams resumed a search on Friday for possible survivors of a massive landslide in western India that killed 16 people and was suspected to have trapped more than a 100.

The land gave way in the middle of Thursday night in the remote mountain hamlet of Irshalwadi in the state of Maharashtra, about 60 km (37 miles) from Mumbai, flattening several houses and trapping many who lived there.

Rescue teams wearing bright orange raincoats and carrying digging tools arrived at the scene on Friday, before trekking up the mountain to the site of the landslide, as thick fog and heavy rain hampered already difficult rescue efforts, said a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) commandant.

“Weather is inclement. I mean it’s like heavily raining, foggy. It is very windy after you go to the hillock which is one and a half to two hours away, a steep 3 kilometre trek. The wind speed might be 40-50 knots, so that is a challenge. The biggest challenge is the non-availability of heavy machinery,” said S.B. Singh, Commandant of 5 Battalion, National Disaster Response Force.

“Our plan today will be to divide the landslide-affected area, which is 250 by 200 meters, into different zones, different categories, and different work sites. With the help of local people, we will be able to retrieve bodies as they will be able to tell us about how many people were living in a particular house,” Singh added.

Disasters linked to rains have killed more than 100 people in India, mostly in the north, since the onset of the monsoon season on June 1, the India Meteorological Department said.