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Search for son & father

Gayabari (Mirik), July 9: Braving torrential downpour, Deepak Tamang had travelled 30 tortuous kilometres from Megma tea estate to look for his son at Shantitoll village, the site of yesterday’s devastating landslide.

“I would never have sent Safal to his aunt had I known that this tragedy would take place,” said the unemployed father of the 15-year-old. Deepak had sent his son to the childless Sanu Tamang for his education.

The father stared at the spot where once his sister Sanu’s house stood as rescue workers continued to search for the missing. Safal is among the eight missing.

Sanu’s body has been found but Deepak is still confident that his son will come home.

“I looked up for my boy at the relief camp, but he is not there. He must have gone to the other camps,” he told volunteers.

A few kilometres above Shantitoll at the Fuguri community hall, 72 families are now sheltered.

Inside the hall, 36-year-old Mala Rai, clutching her 11-year-old son Nasib, is waiting for her husband Niwas, 39, to return.

Niwas, a compounder with the Gayabari tea estate, had left his home at 6 am on Monday for Shantitoll to attend to Jasbir Rai, who was suffering from high fever.

‘“I will probably finish my work by midnight and will return home by one in the morning, if the case is serious’ was what he had told us before leaving. Can you tell me where he is'” asked Mala.

Jasbir is recovering at the relief camp set up at the Gayabari tea estate godown. But there is no news of the man who helped him recover.

Niwas had left Jasbir’s house around 11 pm, much before the disaster struck in the area at 4 am the next day.

The others missing are Puspa Chettri, 29, Jasunda Chettri, 25, Avish Rai, 7, Raja Rai, 65, Hastya Rai, 60, and Begand Rai, 29.

Hundreds of families have abandoned their homes at Shantitoll, Nayakaman and Upper 16 Acre in Gayabari and have taken shelter at the three relief camps nearby. “There are 72 families at Fuguri and 44 at the Gayabari relief camps. Now hygiene seems to be a major problem due to the lack of enough toilets. Moreover, we have not been able to provide drinking water,” said B.K. Rai, DGHC councillor from Mirik.

In Calcutta, the government released Rs 2 crore for restoration of roads and repair of bridges in Darjeeling. The government has also allotted Rs 4 lakh for providing compensation of Rs 20,000 each to the next of kin of those killed.

The help of the army has been sought for repairing two bridges on Nandikhola and Rohini rivers.

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