BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Jill McGivering
"These people only had a few possessions"
 real 28k

The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay
"It all happened in a flash"
 real 28k

Shabana Azmi, MP and actress
"When slum dwellers are in a precarious situation, they should be given an alternative site"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 July, 2000, 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK
Hopes fade for landslide victims
Firemen remove the body of a landslide victim
Firemen remove the body of a landslide victim
The authorities in the Indian city of Bombay say there is little hope of finding any more survivors under the debris of the landslides which have killed at least 60 people.

Emergency teams worked into the night in heavy rainfall to try to reach any survivors trapped beneath debris in slum districts in the east of the city.

But hopes are fading for up to 200 people who are believed to have been buried by the landslides, which were caused by torrential rain.

On Friday morning, two more bodies were recovered bringing the official total to 63.

Officials say they do not know how many bodies remain trapped, but locals say the final number of dead could be as high as 300.


One man described hearing a sudden noise like an explosion, and running outside to see the whole hillside collapsing, destroying his house. His two-year-old daughter is still missing.

Survivors say the explosion of a septic tank may have triggered the landslide which came after days of torrential monsoon rain.

Local officials have warned that similar tragedies could happen elsewhere in the city.

More than half of Bombay's inhabitants live in makeshift shanty towns and slums.

Families wiped out

Many people were forced to stay indoors because of the rain and were caught in the landslide which came without warning.

A police inspector was quoted as saying that entire families appeared to have been wiped out.

"We are working up on a hillock and there are boulders and loose earth in our way, " said district police inspector Chandrakant Kate.

"It's a very difficult job. We cannot bring in machines, so we have to work with our bare hands."

The monsoon has disrupted transport, power and telephone services. Schools and colleges have been closed.

The victims were from a community of slum settlers who inhabit about 200 small hovels on the Balbati hillside in Ghatkopar district, overlooking eastern Bombay.

Hundreds of people live in tin and mud huts built into the hillside.

Bombay facts
Population 12.6m (1991)
Built originally over seven islands
India's commercial and entertainment capital
Official name changed to Mumbai in 1996
Police said the landslide was the result of land erosion following heavy rains since Wednesday morning.

Weather department officials said over 350 mm of rain had fallen on suburban Bombay in the previous 24 hours.

Local electricity officials turned off the supply in some areas, as the water level rose dangerously close to transponders.

Train services within Bombay and from other parts of India were badly affected.

Bombay city council member Pravin Chira said officials had issued warnings about the danger of a landslide.

"We told people to vacate the slums, but no one listened," he said.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

13 Jul 00 | South Asia
Living in Bombay's slums
13 Jul 00 | South Asia
In Pictures: Bombay's mudslide
12 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
'Hundreds' dead in Manila dump collapse
10 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Living hell of death dump
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories