Major landslide kills at least 17 people with at least 200 trapped in Maharashtra state, India

A mudslide surrounds a building in Malin
A mudslide surrounds a building in Malin village, where up to 200 people remain trapped, a rescue official said

A landslide has struck a village in western India following heavy monsoon rains, killing at least 17 people and leaving as many as 200 trapped, officials said.

Emergency services rushed to the remote village of Malin in the Pune district of Maharashtra state, where debris from a hill collapsed on to homes while residents were sleeping.

“Six victims have been rescued and 17 dead bodies recovered so far,” said Tripti Parule, a spokeswoman for the National Disaster Management Authority.

She earlier said 150 to 200 people were feared trapped, citing district officials.

Nine teams have been mobilised by the national disaster response force (NDRF) with 378 trained personnel to help with the rescue effort in the village, Parule said, although ongoing rains have been hampering operations.

Television footage showed a chunk of hillside giving way and a cascade of mud, rocks and trees sparking clouds of dust below. About 50 houses were thought to have been damaged in the disaster.

The prime minister, Narendra Modi, described the loss of life as saddening on Twitter, while footage showed workers carrying a victim on a stretcher towards vehicles as a crowd watched.

Heavy machinery has been mobilised to try to rescue those trapped, while about 30 ambulances were at the scene, local government official Saurav Rao told the Press Trust of India news agency.

“Exact number of casualties is not known as we are moving slowly to ensure that those trapped are removed safely,” Rao said.

Divisional commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh said the rescue operation was a challenge. The area is 15 to 20km (nine to 12 miles) from the nearest medical facility, and the NDRF had difficulty reaching the scene because of damage caused to the roads.

Heavy rains have been falling for days in Maharashtra as a result of the annual monsoon. Building collapses are common in India, especially during the rainy season, with millions living in dilapidated old structures, or newly built but illegal constructions made from substandard materials.

An apartment tower under construction was razed in the southern city of Chennai in late June following heavy rains, killing 61 people, most of them labourers. A similar accident on the outskirts of Mumbai last year left 74 dead.

Last year, the Guardian gathered statistics showing that 2,651 people had been killed across India in 2012 from the collapse of 2,737 structures, including houses and bridges.

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