At-least eight dead, 55 missing in Noney landslide
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, June 30 2022: Intense search and rescue operations are underway after a massive landslide near Makhuam village under Noney district in the wee hours of Thursday left at least eight dead and 55 persons unaccounted for.

Till the time of filing this report, 18 persons have been rescued while search is on to locate the missing persons.

Army search teams are engaging sniffer dogs to locate the missing persons.

Initially, 81 persons, including railway workers, security personnel and some locals who operated shops near the under-construction railway station were swept away by the massive landslide.

Of the eight deceased persons seven were personnel of the Territorial Army and one worker of a company called VCS while those rescued and undergoing treatment include 13 Territorial Army men and five others engaged by a construction company for the railway project work.

Among the missing include 23 TA soldiers, including three JCOs, 23 NF railway officials and workers, two managers of a private construction firm (VSC) and three members of a same family from Makhuam village.

The deceased TA personnel have been identified as Milan Tamang, Tshering Lepcha, Diwankar Thapa, Sankar Chhetri, Benjamin Rai, Md Jairul Haque and Marcus Gurung and the VSC worker as Gopal Phukan.

Central and state agencies are being pressed into service till late night after the landslide triggered by incessant rains during the past few days buried scores of people alive.

The district administration, in coordination with various national and state disaster agencies, is under taking search and rescue, relief operations work.

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 were damaged as a result of the massive landslide.

Chief Public Relations Officer of Northeast Frontier Railways Sabyasachi De said rescue teams from NDRF, SDRF, state government and the Railways rushed to the site.

He said that full-scale rescue operations are in progress.

Senior Railways officials, engineers and equipment on construction sites have been pressed into the rescue efforts.

The 18 persons rescued are being treated at Noney Army Medical unit and other healthcare facilities, including some evacuated to hospitals here.

Stating that bad weather and fresh landslides are affecting the rescue operations, a statement issued by NF Railway PRO informed that concerted effort by all is underway to rescue the missing individuals.

The Army helicopters are also being used to airlift the critically injured, the PRO added.

Meanwhile, Defence Spokesman Lt Col Mohit Vaishnava said the Indian Army on Thursday rescued 13 Territorial Army personnel, who were trapped following the massive landslide in Noney district.

The personnel were de ployed to provide security to the under construction railway line from Jiribam to state capital Imphal.

The injured Territorial Army personnel are being treated at the Noney Army Medical unit.

Army helicopters are on stand-by, waiting for the weather to clear, Lt Col Vaishnava said.

In an advisory, Noney deputy commissioner Haulianlal Guite said the landslide occurred at the Tupul Yard Railway construction camp.

The landslide also initially 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 de -teriorates, it would wreak havoc to the low lying areas of Noney district, he added.

According to Northeast Frontier Railway officials, incessant heavy rain for last few days triggered landslide of the hillock adjacent to the Tupul station yard and hit the under construction station yard.

The landslide also struck the company location of 107 Territorial Army of Indian Army deployed near Tupul Railway Station in Noney district, Manipur for protection of under construction railway line from Jiribam to Imphal.

Soon after the incident occurred, rescue teams rushed to the site while senior railway officials, engineers and equipment available on construction site have been pressed into the rescue efforts.

The flow of the Ijei river that was blocked due to debris of the landslide creating a dam like storage was opened by railways at the request of the state government using the available machineries to avoid any untoward incident which might happen due to river water accumulation.

Helpline numbers has already been issued by the district authorities and for emergency purpose and relevant information one may contact SP/Noney: 8308486828, SDO/Noney: 8414876531, CMO/Noney: 8730935885 (Health related), EE/DRDA/Noney: 7005000344 (Relief Materials).

Sources said that scores of people, including locals and Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) staff, are still missing after the massive landslide hit the railway construction site.

According to the latest figures shared by authorities, of the 18 labourers working on the NFR railway construction site, one body has been recovered, five have been rescued and 11 others are still missing; four NFR engineers, three personnel of BIPL road construction company and one cook are still among the missing.

The incident occurred at Makhuam village near Tupul when a river flowing through Tamenglong and Noney districts was completely blocked due to the massive landslide.

According to locals, the massive landslide blocked the Ijei river in the Noney district, leading to fears of flash floods once the river water level rises.

They were apprehensive that the river bank will break and heavy water flow will destroy the paddy fields downstream.

At the time of filing this report, however, locals said the river had started flowing by itself and broken the obstruction with water pressure.

This, they added, was making rescue operations all the more difficult.

Meanwhile, Makhuam village secretary Guangchalung Kamei opined that the disaster could have been averted had the railway authorities constructed protection wall on those section where the hill slopes were cut to make way for the rail track.

Categorically stating that the landslide was a manmade disaster, he insisted that the railway authorities should bear the responsibility for the cause of death and injuries suffered by many.

According to PRO (Defence), troops of Indian Army, Assam Rifles and Territorial Army continued the rescue operations throughout the day in general area of Tupul railway station in-spite of inclement weather.

Teams of Indian railways, civil administration, NDRF, SDRF and locals of Noney District are also actively contributing in the search.

So far 13 soldiers of Territorial Army and five civilians have been rescued, while mortal remains of seven soldiers and one civilian have been recovered, the PRO informed, adding that relentless search operations will continue during the night.

Engineering equipment including dozers have been pressed into service for creating access to the incident site and help in the rescue efforts.

GOC in command of Eastern Command, Lt Gen RP Kalita and GOC Spear Corps, Lt Gen RC Tiwari moved to the incident site and took stock of the rescue efforts, the PRO added.

While interacting with Army officials near the spot of incident, CM Biren assured of compensation to those who have lost lives and those injured.

Among others, Tamenglong MLA Janghemlung Panmei also visited and inspected the site.

"The damages caused by the landslide are extensive.

Full-scale rescue operations are in progress.

Let's remember them in our prayers", MLA Panmei posted on Facebook.

As per sources, around 60 persons, including security forces and railway construction workers, were camping at the construction site during the incident.

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