Mokokchung, May 26: At least 14 people died, most of them in their sleep, as rain-triggered landslides today sent mounds of earth and boulders from the hills crashing down on homes in Mokokchung town of Nagaland.
The killer landslides wiped out at least one complete family. Street-vendor Boken Das, his pregnant wife Prema Devi and their two children perished inside their tiny house on a steep slope. Bendangtoba, a policeman, lost his mother and three daughters.
Home minister Thenucho and leader of the Opposition I. Imkong visited Mokokchung and met the injured. The government announced compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the families of the victims and Rs 25,000 to those injured.
Imkong attributed the disaster to the poor quality of construction and drainage in the town.
He said the government must initiate steps immediately to prevent more such incidents.
The government gave the Mokokchung district administration seven days to assess the damage to property and submit a report. It formed a relief committee including school education minister Imkong Imchen, commissioner T.N. Mannen and district deputy commissioner Imkongtemsu Ao.
Landslides are expected in other parts of the state, too, with Kohima heading the list. The home minister said the disaster in Mokokchung was a wake-up call for the entire state, which has been experiencing heavy rain.
Reports said floodwaters had inundated the national highway passing through Tuli in the same district. Landslide debris blocked roads at several places.
Dr Kika Longkumer, secretary of the Indian Red Cross Society’s Mokokchung chapter, said incessant rain hampered rescue operations in the town. “We were out by 5 am but managed to get going only by afternoon because of the rain.”
The police, Assam Rifles and the CRPF joined in the operations, but very little could be salvaged. Rescue workers had to struggle to retrieve bodies from the debris.
Mokokchung wore a deserted look with shops and other business establishments remaining closed throughout the day.