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Landslip toll rises to five

Shillong, June 18: The gruelling 38-hour search and rescue operation at Tharia in Meghalaya's Ri Bhoi district came to an end this afternoon following the recovery of the body of a missing woman.

With the recovery of the woman's body, officials said five people died while nine were injured due to the landslide triggered by torrential rain at Tharia in the industrial estate in Umiam, about 15km from here, yesterday morning.

The public relations officer of the Meghalaya civil defence and homeguards, Paul Shylla, today said SDRF personnel, along with those from the fire and emergency services, recovered the body of the fifth victim in the afternoon.

The woman has been identified as Kristina Lama, 52, Shylla said, adding that the body was recovered from the debris.

Shylla also said the search and rescue team comprised 12 personnel from the SDRF of the Meghalaya directorate of civil defence and homeguards. They were aided by officials from Ri Bhoi district and the local people.

The landslide occurred around 5am yesterday morning and engulfed the staff quarters of a plywood factory, Veneer Product Private Ltd, and nearby houses.

Last evening, the operations, led by the SDRF officer-in-charge P.H. Khongsngi, were called off before resuming at 7.30am today.

"The operations, which lasted for 38 hours, were stopped after the body of the missing woman was found today around noon. She was one among the two women who were reported missing yesterday. The body of another woman was recovered yesterday at 6.30pm," Shylla said.

He also said evacuees from the area have been provided temporary shelter by the factory owner, as the area where the landslide occurred is still unsafe.

Following the incident, chief minister Mukul Sangma yesterday ordered a safety audit of the industrial units to ensure that they conform to safety requirements and be resilient to withstand any disasters.

In another incident at Ladkyntong village in Mawjrong under Sohra sub-division, three-year-old Iarisha Sohtun was swept away along with her thatched house yesterday. The toddler was declared brought dead when she was taken to the primary health centre.

The Sohra region - which received 638.2mm of rainfall yesterday, the highest so far this year - has witnessed landslides that have damaged roads from Sohra to Ichamati via Mawshamok and Sohra to Ichamati via Sohbar.

"Around 118 households have been affected due to heavy rainfall and landslides. These include 92 houses in Mawbang, 16 in Kahumrim and 10 houses in Kalatek," an official said.

Apart from the houses, some livestock have died due to the landslides.

The official said vehicles are moving from Sohra to Ichamati but there will be restrictions at night.

There were also flash floods at Shella and Ichamati yesterday, but the water has receded today, the official said. However, a suspension bridge connecting Mawbang and Tyllap collapsed, he added.

Additional reporting by Rining Lyngdoh


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