Shillong, July 27: Eight persons were feared killed and several others injured when boulders fell from a height of about 200 metres at Rishipara near Nakham Baazar in Tura at 11.30 this morning.
Human settlements, mostly thatched houses situated below the cliff, were either crushed or swept away in the resulting mudslide.
Giving details of the incident, deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills district, Sampath Kumar, told this correspondent that the houses which bore maximum impactwere situated on the bank of the Rongkhon river.
This aggravated matters since the landslide triggered flash floods, affecting rescue operations. It even prevented the rescue teams from venturing too deep into the water.
“The eight people missing are feared to be dead and could be buried under the mud,” Kumar said. “As many as 70 people who were trapped have been evacuated from that place and shifted to an adjacent relief camp.” Those feared dead include Usha, Monon, Jogita, Nirmali, Gulabi, Suman, Gulu and Rahul of the Rishi family. The last three are children, Kumar added.
The victims are believed to be inhabitants of Rishipara, with a predominantly Adivasi population.
An additional district magistrate from West Garo Hills, along with police and rescue teams, has been working round-the-clock to excavate the bodies trapped under the mud. The injured have been admitted to Tura Civil Hospital.
“Rescue efforts are not easy as heavy rains during the last few days have caused extensive damage and made the soil very loose. The entire area is filled with mud that was brought down by the cliffs,” Kumar said.
Dipu Marak, a resident of Tura, said the strong current of the Rongkhon had caused maximum damage. “The river, flowing at a fierce pace, compounded the problems for the Rishis who had little time to react after the cliff collapsed,” he said.
Non-stop rains all over Meghalaya have resulted in landslides in several other areas. In Shillong, heavy mudslides were reported from the low-lying Polo area, resulting in traffic disruption for nearly two hours during the day. There was, however, no casualty or injury.
Even the highway was not spared. The stretch of Guwahati-Shillong Road near Jorabat was badly affected due to waterlogging. Uprooted trees disrupted traffic in the Rilbong and Kenches Trace localities of the state capital. Power supply was disrupted in several localities, adding to the woes of the residents.