|Assam Rifles finds three survivors in landslide-hit Chandel district|
|By Khelen Thokchom|
Imphal, Aug 3 : A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rushed to Chandel district of Manipur where many people were buried alive following landslides triggered by heavy rain in the past three days.
Officials yesterday said landslides swept away all the 21 houses of Joumoul village - more than 200km south of Imphal under Khengjoy subdivision of Chandel which shares border with Myanmar - and 20 villagers were buried alive. Joumoul is under Khengjoy block.
The NDRF and the Assam Rifles recovered four bodies today.
Paite said the village has only 10 houses. Eighteen villagers were at home when the landslides struck. The total population of the village, according to him, is 74. The remaining villagers were in other places when the incident took place.
As of now, six survived the landslides. Three survivors reached safer places yesterday. Eight persons were still missing, the Assam Rifles said.
The Manipur government has announced Rs 5 lakh ex gratia for those killed in the landslides and floods. Government sources, however, could not give the exact number of deaths in the landslides till this evening.
President Pranab Mukherjee condoled the loss of lives in the landslides in Manipur.
In his message to Manipur governor Syed Ahmed, the President said: "I am sad to learn about the landslides triggered by heavy rain in Chandel district of Manipur which has resulted in the loss of a number of lives and injuries as well as damages to property. I understand some people are missing and thousands have been left homeless. Rescue as well as relief operations are currently under way."
He called upon the state government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families who have lost their members as well as medical assistance to the injured and shelter to the homeless.
Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju is expected to arrive here tomorrow to take stock of the flood situation.
A 20-member NDRF team landed in Imphal last night and they were airlifted to Joumoul to lead the rescue and relief operations there and other flood-affected areas of the Chandel.
"The NDRF is assisting the district administration in rescue and relief operations in Chandel district. They are also trying to recover the bodies. The exact number of casualties is yet to be ascertained," an official source said here.
The operation to retrieve the bodies continued till late afternoon. Another team of the NDRF are expected to arrive tonight or early morning tomorrow. Two air force choppers are pressed into service in relief and rescue operations.
Khengjoy block development officer Mary Memi said rescue operations were hampered by landslides at many places in Chandel district.
The president of the Kuki Students' Organisation in Tengnoupal, Daniel Mate, said because of incessant rain, landslides took place at many places in and around Tengnoupal villages in Chandel district. These places have been cut off from rest of the state.
The state government also deployed state disaster response teams to the flood-affected areas.
The floods caused landslides in many places and inundated houses in Chandel, Tamenglong and Ukhrul districts in the hills and also in the four valley districts. Five bridges were swept away by swelling river water in Chandel district alone.
Road communication between Imphal and the some of the hill districts has been snapped because of landslides. About 300 loaded Imphal-bound trucks were stranded along the Imphal-Jiribam stretch (National Highway 2).
Government sources said the exact number of people left homeless by floods is yet to be ascertained. They added that relief camps were opened for the displaced people.
The floods also submerged vast tracts of standing crops in the four valley districts of Manipur and other low-lying areas in the hills.
According to official sources, floods and landslides blocking roads are regular features during monsoon in Manipur, but the scale of landslides is massive this time.
Experts said landslides were extensive this year because of hill deforestation.