Two people were killed and three others seriously injured when their cars were caught in a landslide at the Mumbai-Pune Expressway on Sunday afternoon. Another person lost his life when a car hit him while he was helping with the rescue operations.
The vehicles were crushed by falling boulders, killing two Mumbai residents, Sashikant Dhamankar, 50, and Dilip Patel, 52, on the spot. Local residents gathered to help the traffic police clear the debris. Ganpat Pandurang Kudpane, a resident of Khalapur, died after a passing Swift hit him, while Mohan More and Arun Nalawade were seriously injured, said the Khopoli police. The car fled the spot.
Traffic on the expressway came to a halt for three hours after the landslide, with the debris blocking both sides of the road. The incident took place near Adoshi tunnel at Borghat around 12.30pm. On June 22, a landslide had disrupted traffic for 24 hours on the stretch.
Dhamankar was a resident of Byculla, while Patel was from Bhayandar.
Sources said Patel was returning to Mumbai after getting his daughter enrolled in a private college in Pune. Those injured have been identified as Mangal Mane, Sushila Dhamankar, his mother and Nirmala Patel, Dilip’s mother. They were taken to Lokmanya hospital at Nigdi, near Pune."I went to the spot to monitor the rescue operations. While one lane each towards Mumbai and Pune has been cleared, it will take another few hours to restore normalcy at the expressway," said Eknath Shinde, minister for public works department.
The traffic woes were especially bad as on weekends, the expressway is crowded with tourists from destinations such as Lonavala and Khandala.
Chandrakant Patil, state cooperation minister , said, “Authorities have been working relentlessly to clear boulders on the expressway. However, it will take time for normal traffic to resume, as we want to make sure the area near the tunnel is safe for commuters.”
This is the first fatal landslide on the E-way, said some experts. “While landslides are common, this is the first time I have seen commuters lose their lives, said Arun Deodhar, retired chief engineer, MSRDC.