Tragedy at Bhushi Dam in Pune: 4 of a Family die; 1 Missing

Pune: A family picnic turned into a heartbreaking tragedy as four members, including three children, lost their lives after being swept away by a waterfall behind the Bhushi Dam in Lonavala on Sunday. The newlywed couple, part of the extended family, was rescued and is currently hospitalized.

The incident involved 19 members of the extended Ansari, Khan, and Sayyad families from Sayyad Nagar, Hadapsar. They had embarked on a trip to Lonavala early Sunday morning in a hired bus. Farooq Inamdar, a former Hadapsar corporator, confirmed that a relative from Uttar Pradesh, in town for a recent family wedding, was also among the group.

“A couple from Sayyad Nagar, who married on June 22, was injured but is in stable condition. Shahista Ansari, who perished, was a domestic worker. The parents of the deceased children are small-scale bakery item sellers,” Inamdar said.

A viral video on social media depicts the harrowing moment the group, overwhelmed by intense rainfall, was swept away. The Pune Rural Police, INS Shivaji, and Shivdurg Mitra Mandal conducted a rescue operation, recovering the bodies of Ameena Salman alias Adil Ansari, 13, her sister Umera Salman alias Adil Ansari, 8, and Shahista Ansari, 37, on Sunday. Mariya Akil Sayyad, 9, was found on Monday, with Adnan Sabhahat Ansari, 4, still missing.

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Inspector Suhas Jagtap of the Lonavala police reported that about 10 individuals were swept away around 12:30 PM due to sudden flooding. Some managed to escape, and one girl was rescued by other tourists. Search efforts by Vanyajeev Rakshak Maval, the Shivdurg rescue team, and Navy divers continue for the missing child.

The family, unprepared for the sudden surge in water flow caused by heavy rains, had traveled to Lonavala for a leisurely day. Despite numerous warnings from local authorities about the dangers, tourists frequently venture into hazardous areas around the Bhushi and Pavana dams.

Superintendent Pankaj Deshmukh of Pune Rural Police urged the public to avoid risky areas, especially during the monsoon season. “We will hold a meeting with stakeholders to develop measures preventing such incidents,” Deshmukh stated.

Local authorities emphasize the need for enhanced safety measures as incidents like these have marred the serene surroundings of Lonavala and Pavana Dam. Since January 2024, four people have drowned in the Pavana Dam, with the Vanyajeev Rakshak Maval rescue organization recovering 27 bodies from various water bodies in Maval tehsil between March and May.

In a related incident, Swapnil Dhawde from Pimpri Chinchwad was swept away in a waterfall in Tamhini Ghat during a gym outing. Despite immediate search operations, Dhawde remains missing.

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