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Heart-rending tales from Malin

Heart-rending tales from Malin
Highlights

Heart-rending tales from Malin, With the recovery of five more bodies, the toll in the landslide catastrophe at Malin village rose to 82 while 100 more persons were believed to be buried in the debris.

  • I lost 20 of my relatives in a flash, says landslide survivor
  • Hira Bai was in tears at a mass funeral. She lost 9 members
  • Chandrakant Zhanjare lost 13 members of his family
  • Landslide toll climbs to 82, 100 more people feared buried

Pune: With the recovery of five more bodies, the toll in the landslide catastrophe at Malin village rose to 82 while 100 more persons were believed to be buried in the debris.

Chandrakant Zhanjare, who lost 13 members of his family, breaks down as he sits on an uprooted tree at landslide-hit Malin village

The dead included 37 women and 10 children, the District Control Room said. Mass cremations of the victims are being carried out at the village after identification of bodies by relatives.

The rescue operations, which have been hampered by rain and inclement weather, entered the fourth day after the July 30 disaster that buried 44 houses, as hopes of finding survivors faded with every passing hour.

Meanwhile, like some desperate seeker for miracles, 65-year-old Narmada Zanjara goes around the flattened Malin village. Often looking to the heavens for succour, sometimes incredulously at the slushy mud that swallowed the village.

Narmada like hundreds of others have little to get from the heavens actually. All they had have been buried under the earth. The miracle seekers of Malin now keep looking to the earth.

Narmada Zanjare, a widow, lost 20 of her relatives — her 3 brothers and their families. Her two daughters escaped miraculously. She has been coming to Malin for three days since the landslide from Vishrantwadi, near Pune, to find if she can put together the threads of her life again.

Her face is numb with disbelief: "I never thought that my full family would be destroyed like this. All my brothers, their wives and kids are missing since Wednesday and I am helplessly going from one officer to another in hope of any news about them. On Thursday, due to the rescue operations, the police did not let us go till the spot of my home for the whole day and today I am going there again to check the dead bodies they have extracted."

Searching for the bodies of her dear ones is not what Narmada though she would come to Malin for. She has beautiful memories of her childhood in this village which now stretches out before her like a slush filled graveyard, with the flames of another cremation shooting upwards.

After hearing the news when she rushed to the village of her childhood where her brothers and their families were staying, she couldn't reach the village but was stranded 20km off the village. With pleading hands she went from one official to another. "Aata kunakade jau maherpanala…(whom do I go to now from my maternal side)," she wails.

Zanjare knows there is hardly any hope left now of seeing her family alive. Zanjare had married off two of her daughters in the same Malin village.

One son-in-law passed away a few years ago, the other escaped the landslide narrowly as he had gone to have tea. Her daughters, too, are safe. Her three brothers and their families have been buried under the landslide.

Rescue officials have now allowed her to wait near the area being cleared. Zanjare comes in a rented vehicle with her daughters, neighbours and other relatives and waits patiently, hoping against hope. "There was only one ST bus that would come to this village. I always took the bus in the morning and came back by evening."

For hundreds like Zanjare, Malin no longer has any life left. The hills may be green with rain but clouds of death and sorrow hang heavily.

Hira Bai Gare was in tears at a mass funeral. She lost nine members of her family, including three children. Only four bodies have been dug out so far. According to another report, she lost 25 members of her family, including three brothers and their families. Hira lives in another village, but she came to Malin to help her brothers in farming activities. But she was staying in another house Chandrakant Zhanjare, who lost 13 members of his family, broke down as he sat on an uprooted tree at landslide-hit Malin village About 100 more persons still could be under the massive debris, district authorities said.

"The extrication work is progressing at a slow pace because of restricted movements of JCBs and other heavy equipment due to huge mound of mud and water," said a rescue official.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Relief and Rehabilitation minister Patangrao Kadam said the recovery of bodies could take two more days in view of the inclement conditions. He said the NDRF jawans were working ceaselessly even through night using power generators and search lights.

The state government has announced an assistance of Rs five lakh to each of the victims' families with an assurance of their total rehabilitation.

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