Three of family drown in waterfall in Maharashtra's Lonavala; 2 children missing

The Lonavala police further said they have deployed several teams, including the local trekkers, who are well-versed in the terrain, to search for the missing children.
Screengrab from the video which captured the tragic incident.
Screengrab from the video which captured the tragic incident.PTI

MUMBAI: At least 5 people including 4 children were swept away and drowned due to sudden strong flow of rain water at a waterfall in Pune’s Lonavala near Bhushi Dam.

The heart wrenching incident occurred close to the backwater of Bhusi dam on Sunday afternoon at around 1.30 pm, following which a rescue operation was initiated. The waterfall is located behind the Railway’s rest house near the dam.

Pune Rural Superintendent of Police (SP) Pankaj Deshmukh said, a search operation is being carried out at the site to trace the missing persons.

Later in the night, news agency ANI reported that one more dead body was recovered and the rescue operations have been halted for the day.

According to the police, 16-17 members of a family from Sayyad Nagar in Pune's Hadapsar area had hired a private bus to visit the scenic spot near Lonavala for a picnic on the rain-soaked day.

Police identified the deceased as Shahista Liaqat Ansari (36), Amima Adil Ansari (13), and Umera Adil Ansari (8).

Adnan Sabhahat Ansari (4) and Mariya Aqil Ansari (9) are still missing, the official said.

A search team recovered their bodies from the reservoir downstream.

A heart-wrenching video of the incident shows a group of people, including those who lost their lives, being swept away by gushing water caused by intense rainfall in the region.

According to the police, continuous rainfall in the Lonavala region since early morning has led to the overflow of the Bhushi Dam, which is a well known tourist hotspot, eventually increasing the flow of waterfalls.

The Lonavala police further said they have deployed several teams, including the local trekkers, who are well-versed in the terrain, to search for the missing children.

As the monsoon season begins, thousands of visitors are flocking to the Bhushi and Pavana dam regions, often disregarding warnings from the police and local authorities to avoid unknown areas.

A police officer estimated that over 50,000 people visited Lonavala on Sunday.

"It's a tragic incident. Despite numerous warnings, people continue to venture into hazardous areas in the hilly terrain upstream of Bhushi Dam. Today, many revellers were under the waterfalls in the Bhushi Dam region, ignoring the warnings," he said.

He added that as the monsoon season progresses, the number of visitors is expected to swell.

Pune Rural Police Superintendent urged the public not to risk their lives by exploring unfamiliar areas in Lonavala, Khandala, and the Pavana Dam region.

"The area where the incident occurred, as well as the surroundings of Bhushi Dam, fall under the jurisdiction of the Indian Railways and the Forest Department. We will convene a meeting with all stakeholders to develop measures to prevent such incidents," he said.

Meanwhile, the serene surroundings of the Pavana Dam in Lonavala have also been marred by a series of tragic drownings, prompting urgent calls for enhanced safety measures in the region Local authorities, including the police and the irrigation department, have expressed concerns over tourists ignoring warning signs and venturing into dangerous waters.

According to the Lonavala Rural Police, four persons have drowned in the Pavana Dam since January 2024.

The rescue organisation Vanyajeev Rakshak Maval reported recovering 27 bodies from various water bodies in Maval tehsil between March and May this year.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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