India floods: 31 bodies stay buried in sludge as search called off at request of families

‘To see them in pieces was another traumatic experience,’ says a man who lost his five-year-old son

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 27 July 2021 13:03
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<p>India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel distribute food and relief material to people impacted by floods in Maharashtra </p>

India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel distribute food and relief material to people impacted by floods in Maharashtra

Search for at least 31 people was called off after family members said they did not want to disturb the bodies of loved ones buried under sludge after a devastating landslide in Maharashtra.

The landslide, which occurred on 22 July in the western Indian state, killed 84 people who lived in 42 houses in Raigad district’s Mahad taluka village.

“It’s been a painful experience for all of us. We have lost our near and dear ones and to see them in pieces was another traumatic experience,” a man who lost his five-year-old son was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying.

Rescuers managed to retrieve 53 bodies earlier, in an operation that went on for four days before officially being called off on Monday, the fifth day.

Authorities informed Indian media outlets that the rescue teams suggested calling off the mission after discussions with relatives who gave their consent — in writing and on video — to the administration.

“The teams have stopped the search and rescue operation at the landslide-hit Taliye village. Thirty-one missing people to be declared dead following due process. The search for these missing people has been called off after seeking the opinion of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the Target Disaster Response Force (TDRF),” Raigad District collector Nidhi Choudhari was quoted by Indian media outlets as saying.

“The relatives of the missing people also demanded the closure of the operation since yesterday,” she said.

The operation was called off at 10am on Monday following the decision. The dead were given a mass funeral by villagers who placed garlands on the site where the bodies were buried.

The western part of India has been witnessing extreme rainfall, flooding and landslides triggered by rain. The landslide at Mahad taluka village was one of the deadliest witnessed during last week’s flood tragedy.

Floods in western India have followed a spate of other extreme weather events across the world in recent weeks. These include severe floods in Germany and China and a sandstorm that covered an entire city in China.

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