Two persons were killed and traffic movement came to a screeching halt after a landslide struck near Adoshi Tunnel at Borghat on Mumbai-Pune expressway on Sunday afternoon.
The incident took place around 12:30pm, some 30km from Panvel near Navi Mumbai. While the landslide occurred on Mumbai side of the highway, boulders came down on both the carriageways, blocking the eight-lane road completely for the first three hours. The highway police diverted vehicles to old Pune-Mumbai highway.
The Mumbai-Pune expressway witnesses heavy traffic on weekends, as it serves as a link to popular tourist destinations such as Lonavala and Khandala. Heavy rains often trigger landslides -- and, in turn, traffic disruptions -- in this segmnent every year.
Police said two cars, including an Indigo and a Skoda -- both headed for Mumbai, were trapped under the debris caused by the landslide and two persons were killed.
The deceased have been identified as Sashikant Dhamankar, 50, a resident of Dombivali near Mumbai, and 52-year-old Dilip Patel, a resident of Bhayandar in Mumbai. They were travelling in separate cars.
Reports said Patel was returning to Mumbai from Pune, where his daughter recently got admission at a private institution.
Three people sustained serious injuries and were rushed to a hospital in Nigdi, near Pune. The injured have been identified as Mangal Mane, Sushila Dhamankar and Nirmala Patel.
Chandrakant Patil, state minister for public works development, said, “Authorities have been working relentlessly to clear boulders on the expressway. However it will take few more hours before traffic resumes.”
Eknath Shinde, minister for public works department (MSRDC) in Maharashtra, said, "I am currently on the spot, monitoring the rescue operations. Two lanes -- one each towards Mumbai and Pune -- have been cleared.”
Shinde said the government has already handed a work contract to a Swiss company, which will chalk out steps on how to prevent such incidents.