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Manipur landslip death toll rises to 38

Rescue team at work after a massive landslip at Tupul area in Manipur’s Noney district on July 2, 2022.

Rescue team at work after a massive landslip at Tupul area in Manipur’s Noney district on July 2, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

On the fourth day after the devastating landslip at Toupul in Noney district of Manipur, rescue teams used sniffer dogs to locate the bodies of missing Territorial Army personnel and workers at an under construction railway station and tribal village.

The death toll rose to 38 on Sunday with the recovery of three more bodies. Among them are 24 Territorial Army personnel and 13 civilians, a defence spokesperson said in Guwahati. The bodies of seven Territorial Army personnel were sent to their hometowns — Kolkata and Bagdogra in West Bengal, and Agartala in Tripura — on Sunday. Full military honours were given to them at Imphal, he said.

Heavy rains and fresh landslides in the Toupul area since Saturday night have affected the search operations.

“Relentless effort to find the remaining six missing Territorial Army personnel and 19 civilians will continue till the last individual is found,” the defence spokesperson said. “The search operation is continuing despite adverse weather conditions.”

The Army, Assam Rifles, Territorial Army, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are part of the search operations. Through Wall Imaging Radar (TWIR) technology is being used to find missing persons under the debris. So far, 13 Territorial Army personnel and five civilians have been safely rescued. ​Officials say at least 80 persons including some children could be trapped under the debris.

A. Newmai, the local MLA, said that 27 excavators are being used in the search for missing bodies, and five more will be pressed into service if required. He said that highly sensitive machinery, which can detect bodies buried several metres deep, has been deployed, and that there is no dearth of men, machinery or volunteers. Mr. Newmai hoped the remaining bodies will be recovered soon. 

Debris has blocked the Ijei river, creating a reservoir that threatens to inundate low-lying areas. At present, work is underway to clear the debris to let the water flow out.

An advisory issued by Noney Deputy Commissioner H. Guite said that the people of nearby villages should be alert and move out, if possible. Mr. Guite has also issued an order to leave vehicles on the highway and proceed on foot as vehicles entering the earthquake-hit areas are hampering rescue works.

The mountain where the landslip occurred was the epicentre of the January 6, 2016 earthquake of 6.7 magnitude. There is panic among locals and rescue workers over reports of signs of fresh landslips in the nearby mountains.

Meanwhile, hundreds of loaded trucks, buses and private vehicles are stranded on either side of a massive landslide along NH37, close to the site of the massive landslide. Big boulders are blocking the second most important highway in Manipur.. Officials said it will take some days to clear the debris so that traffic can proceed.

Chief Minister N. Biren visited the Assam Rifles Hospital at Mantril Pukhri near Imphal city on Sunday evening to distribute ₹50,000 each to injured personnel shifted there for better treatment.

Ministers from Manipur and Assam have been visiting the affected areas in Toupul to distribute food and other essential items. Congress leaders also visited the areas on Saturday.

( Inputs from PTI.)

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2022 11:03:49 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/manipur-landslip-sniffer-dogs-being-used-to-locate-bodies/article65595011.ece