Maharashtra landslides claim lives, local mountaineers assist rescues


In a tragic twist of fate, local mountaineers, traditionally welcomed by residents, have emerged as first responders following a devastating landslide in Maharashtra’s Irshalwadi, Raigad district. The unexpected calamity in a region not traditionally prone to such events claimed 16 lives and caused significant property damage.
Mountaineering clubs like Khopoli’s Yashwanti Hikers and Nisargamitra in Panvel swiftly mobilised, saving ten villagers from the disaster-stricken hamlet.
Teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) arrived to assist, despite the initial difficulties posed by harsh weather conditions and further landslide threats. Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s Palghar district, hit by heavy rainfall for the third consecutive day, reported three deaths from related incidents. The India Meteorological Department issued a red alert for Palghar and neighbouring Thane due to predicted ‘heavy to very heavy’ rainfall.
The landslide triggered a response from Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who reported to the state legislative assembly about the ongoing rescue operations, the rainfall in the area, and the setup of a temporary helipad for emergency relief. Amid the disaster, rescue and relief equipment was dispatched from Mumbai, along with rescue teams from Thane Municipal Corporation. A total of 2,227 people from several affected talukas were evacuated due to the flood-like situation created by the heavy rains, with 17 out of 28 dams in Raigad overflowing.
The challenges posed by the terrain made the rescue operation difficult, as heavy equipment couldn’t be moved due to lack of motorable roads. Nevertheless, authorities have set up a control room at Irshalwadi’s base and continue rescue efforts manually. Authorities also acknowledged that remote terrain and hostile weather were impeding rescue operations. The Chief Minister called for machinery to be sent by helicopters once the weather cleared.
Despite the inclement weather, parts of the state’s Marathwada region still depend on tankers for water needs. As a result of the crisis, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council, Ambadas Danve, called for a state-wide survey of villages in mountainous regions and proposed a strategic approach to identify and prioritise those needing relocation.