In what appears to be the last phase of the massive rescue operation, NDRF jawans today recovered 21 more bodies from under the debris of landslide in Malin village in Pune district, which takes the death toll in the July 30 disaster to 151.
Working ceaselessly for the seventh day today, braving heavy rains, rescue personnel still expect 15-20 bodies more under the mound, as per the estimate of casualties calculated on the basis of headcount of families living in about 45 houses flattened by the mudslide.
According to the district control room officials, the dead listed so far include 59 men, 71 women, and 21 children.
Carcasses of 50 animals too have been extricated in almost round-the-clock rescue operation.
District health authorities have taken preventive measures to sanitise the area with continuous spraying of disinfectants.
NDRF jawans persevered with their work wearing face masks to keep out the oppressive stench as they dug out decomposed bodies of humans and animals.
Deputy district collector Suresh Jadhav told PTI that the debris-clearing operation was expected to take one more day depending on rains that affected movement of JCBs and dumpers.
"We have taken all precautions to deal with possible health hazards," he said, adding that water samples in the area too are being tested for possible contamination.
The district administration has also asked remaining inhabitants of the village to leave their houses following an advisory by Geological Survey of India warning of more landslides if rainfall continues.
Meanwhile, mass cremation of the dead continued with huge quantities of firewood procured by district officials from the forest department, while relatives struggled to come to terms with the horrific tragedy that virtually wiped the village off the map.
Tragic. When a rescue operation of this nature starts, the teams know, with a sinking heart, that there will be only a few miracles. If there were any man made causes to the landslide, great care should be taken to ensure that they are blocked for the future.