Imphal: At least eight bodies, including seven of Territorial Army personnel, were recovered after a massive landslide in Manipur’s Noney district, triggered by incessant rains over the past few days, buried dozens of people alive on Thursday, officials said.
At least 23 others were injured and rescued as rescue operations by the Central and state agencies were on at full pace.
According to local media reports, at least 51 more people are still missing.
A defence spokesman said that the mortal remains of seven Territorial Army soldiers and a civilian have been recovered and relentless search operations would continue during the night.
He said that engineering equipment, including bulldozers, have been pressed into service for creating access to the incident site and helping in rescue efforts.
The 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.
Army’s Eastern Command chief, Lt Gen R.P. Kalita and Spear Corps commander, Lt Gen R.C. Tiwari reached the incident site and took stock of the rescue efforts.
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh also visited the incident site, for first-hand inputs on the rescue operations and announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have spoken to Biren Singh and assured him of all possible help.
Modi tweeted: “Spoke to Manipur CM N. Biren Singh and reviewed the situation due to a tragic landslide. Assured all possible support from the Centre. I pray for the safety of all those affected. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon.”
Shah in a tweet said: “Spoke to N. Biren Singh and Ashwini Vaishnav in the wake of a landslide near the Tupul railway station in Manipur. Rescue operations are in full swing. A team of NDRF has already reached the spot and joined the rescue operations. Two more teams are on their way to Tupul.”
Noney Deputy Commissioner Haulianlal Guite said the landslide occurred at the Tupul Yard Railway construction camp.
The landslide also obstructed the course of the Ijei river which flows through Tamenglong and Noney districts.As the situation is still unfolding, 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.
The under construction Tupul station building, track formation and camps of construction workers got damaged as a result of the massive landslide. Northeast Frontier Railways Chief Public Relations Officer Sabyasachi De said rescue teams from the NDRF, the SDRF, state government and the Railways rushed to the site and full-scale rescue operations are in progress.
However, bad weather and fresh landslides are affecting the rescue operations.
Concerted effort by all is underway to rescue the missing individuals.
Army helicopters are also being used to airlift the critically injured, the CPRO said.
Earlier, defence spokesman Lt. Col. Mohit Vaishnava said the Army on Thursday rescued 13 Territorial Army personnel, who were trapped following the massive landslide. The personnel were deployed to provide security to the under construction railway line from Jiribam to Imphal.