Landslide near Pune kills 10, scores feared trapped

NEW DELHI Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:29pm IST

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Heavy rain triggered a landslide near Pune that killed at least ten people and trapped up to 150 more after thick mud came crashing down on thatch huts and brick houses on Wednesday, a disaster official said.

Rescue teams and local residents pulled people out of the deep mud and put them on stretchers, television images showed.

Seven teams of 42 rescue workers each arrived at the disaster site, a village 60 km (37 miles) from the city of Pune, but rain, mud and poor communications hampered efforts, Sandeep Rai Rathore, inspector general of the national disaster force, told Reuters.

Only two residents had been rescued by Wednesday evening, he said.

"The area is quite a difficult terrain," said Rathore, adding that rescuers were trying to determine how many people were caught in the landslide.

"The figure, it could be up to 150."

At least 30 brick houses and thatch huts were badly damaged in the village in the Ambegaon sub-district, he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed the home minister to rush to Pune to take stock of the situation.

"The Prime Minister has condoled the loss of lives in the landslide, and directed all possible efforts to help the affected people," a government statement said.

Rainy season downpours, though vital for India's agriculture, often bring disaster.

Unprecedented rain in June last year wreaked havoc across Uttarakhand, causing rivers and lakes to burst their banks, inundating towns and villages and killing thousands of people.

Badly managed hydro-power projects were partly to blame for those floods, an environment ministry panel said in April.

(Reporting by Sruthi Gottipati; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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