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17 dead following India landslide

At least 17 people have died after a landslide caused by torrential rains hit a remote village in western India.

National rescue personnel reached the area before nightfall but continuing rains and bad roads are hampering rescue efforts and preventing reinforcements from reaching Ambegaon, a village in Pune district in Maharashtra state.

Rescuers plan to work overnight using floodlights mounted on two jeeps being sent from Pune along with earthmoving vehicles, according to officials.

With 70 homes buried and reports of another 158 hit by the landslide, rescuers anticipate more dead in the village, home to 704 people in the foothills of the Sahyadri Mountains.

The landslide hit early on Wednesday morning, but details of the damage only began to trickle out several hours later. The area received 10.8 centimeters (4.25 inches) of rain on Tuesday, with a heavy downpour continuing through Wednesday.

A lack of Internet connectivity and poor phone service are also hampering the rescue operation.

It is feared that more than 150 people could still be trapped.

Landslides are common in the area during the monsoon season, which runs from June to September.

Pune district is about 95 miles southeast of Mumbai, India's commercial capital. The nearest medical centre is about 9 miles from the village.

The area around the village has been deforested extensively, increasing its vulnerability to landslides.

Similar deforestation and environmental damage have caused floods and landslides in other parts of India as well.

Last year, more than 6,000 people were killed as floods and landslides swept through the hilly northern state of Uttarakhand during the monsoon season.


From Belfast Telegraph