With the recovery of 13 more bodies on Friday, the death toll in the devastating Thursday landslide in Manipur’s Noney district, triggered by incessant rains over the past few days, has reached 21, including 15 Territorial Army personnel, while 50 more people are still missing, officials said.
A government report said that more than 80 persons are feared to have been buried alive after the massive mudslide.
Officials said that at least 23 others were injured even as rescue operations by the Army, Central and state agencies were on at full pace.
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh accompanied by top Army and civil officials visited the disaster site at Tupul in western Manipur on Friday.
“In the landslide affected sites of Tupul, Ministers of the state Govt, local MLAs and officials are also camping to oversee the rescue operation. The loss of lives, including our armed forces personnel, is deeply saddening. We still have over 50 missing persons to be found.”
“Visited the site in Tupul which was severely devastated by the landslide yesterday and took stock of the rescue operations. Heavy machinery along with ‘Through Wall Imaging Radar’ have also been deployed to expedite the operation,” he said in a series of tweets.
Defence spokesman Lt Col Mohit Vaishnava said that search operations by the Army, Assam Rifles, Territorial Army, national and state disaster response force continue at the incident site at Tupul, and excavators are being used to pull out bodies from the Ijei River.
Around 10 columns of defence personnel have been pressed into the search operation, he said, adding a synergised and joint operational task force is coordinating the efforts to remove the mud and boulders.
“‘Thorough Wall Radar’ is also being inducted to detect the presence of personnel buried in the debris,” Lt Col Vaishnava said adding that a search and rescue dog squad is also being inducted.
Army’s Eastern Command Chief Lt Gen R.P. Kalita met the six injured Territorial Army personnel who were initially evacuated to Liemakong Military Hospital on Thursday and are now being provided medical aid at the Assam Rifles Hospital at Mantripukhri.
Meanwhile, the district administration has cautioned civilians living in downstream areas of the Ijei river to evacuate due to the likelihood of breach in the dam created on the river by the landslide.
Noney Deputy Commissioner Haulianlal Guite said the landslide occurred at the Tupul Yard Railway construction camp, and it also obstructed the course of the Ijei river which flows through Tamenglong and Noney districts.
The Deputy Commissioner has warned the general public, especially children, against going near the river.If the situation further deteriorates, it would wreak havoc to the low-lying areas of Noney district, he added.
People have also been advised against travelling along the National Highway 37 due to multiple road blockages due to landslides. The district administration has also launched several helpline numbers for the affected people to call for assistance.