•14 dead, 10 missing in torrential rains in GH, WKH, •NDRF rescue teams arriving today
TURA/NONGSTOIN/SHILLONG: At least 14 people have been killed in floods and landslides triggered by incessant rain in the State.
Twelve people are feared dead and another ten missing in torrential rains that have lashed the Garo Hills region causing extensive damage to property and inundating vast tracts of land even as rescue teams are fighting nature’s fury to reach the several thousand people stranded on Monday.
The deaths have occurred in the districts of South West Garo Hills, representing the chief minister Mukul Sangma’s constituency of Ampati, and North Garo Hills region of Kharkutta.
The number of people affected by the devastating storm has reached close to three lakh people in the five districts of Garo Hills even as the initial help for the victims is coming from locals and limited government teams on the ground, particularly the paramilitary forces.
A report from West Khasi Hills district said two minor girls were killed and three others injured after torrential rains triggered landslides at various places across Mawshynrut Block on Monday.
Ten others have been reported missing by locals in the plains belt region of West Garo Hills district and authorities are trying to verify the claims in the Tikrikilla-Chibinang region.
However, Officials from South West Garo Hills confirmed that seven people, including five children, lost their lives due to landslides and floods.
A mother and two children were killed when their house caved in due to a landslide at Banduraja village near Ampati while three children were washed away by the flood waters at Bolchugre village. A woman also drowned at Chipragaon village after rising flood waters dragged her under.
West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi said that the first information report on the flash floods have been sent to Joint Secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs.
He said that a NDRF team is reaching West Garo Hills on Tuesday for rescue operations, a full 24 hours after a natural disaster has struck the five Garo Hills districts.
Government officials inform that the NDRF teams will be reaching the two most affected districts of West and North Garo Hills only by Tuesday to kick start the rescue operations for the several thousand people stranded by the natural calamity. The Tura Lok Sabha member Purno A Sangma and Rajya Sabha member Wansuk Syiem have reportedly sanctioned funds for emergency relief to the tune of Rs. 25 Lakh each from their MPLAD Scheme for the affected areas.
He said, “The NDMA is contemplating to airlift affected civilians if need arises.”
In North Garo Hills district, officials informed that they have received reports about a landslide at Bugakol village under Kharkutta police station killing five members of a family. “We have received the report of a landslide in which five people have been killed but cannot confirm it since we are yet to reach the site. Our movement has been disrupted due to flood waters which have washed away several portions of the road,” informed North Garo Hills police.
Torrential rains accompanied with strong winds began lashing Garo Hills on Saturday night and the winds gained strength with similar features of a cyclonic storm as darkness stretched.
By Monday morning devastation could be witnessed everywhere as bridges were washed away, paddy fields inundated, electric poles and trees uprooted and landslides blocking all major roads including national highway 51 connecting Tura with neighbouring Assam.
The flood scenario was grim in the plain belt region of West and South West Garo Hills districts and a similar case is unfolding in the Bajengdoba region of North Garo Hills where several roads and bridges have been washed away.
Landslides have occurred in Malchapara and the main Tura-Ampati road while there is inundation at many places on the border road between Katuli and Lukaichar.
“Teporpara and Gandhipara are cut off and many interior low lying areas are cut off and inundated by flood waters,” informed Ampati deputy commissioner Ram Singh. He expressed optimism that all major roads could be reopened by Tuesday if there is a halt to rainfall.
The paramilitary force BSF has gone out of its way to provide help to the stranded people. It has provided a relief camp at Lukaichar border outpost for as many as 400 villagers and together with some village elders providing ration and shelter.
The district administration, on the other hand, is setting up a few schools in the highlands of Betasing block as relief camps and providing rations for the inmates.
Meanwhile, a report from Nongstoin said the two sisters — Sirilin Langrin (6 years) and Kerlin Langrin(one and a half years) were killed when their house caved in due to a landslide at Thaieim village under Mawshynrut Block .
Three other members of the family, who received injuries, had been shifted to hospital for treatment, an official source said. Another landslide occurred near Riangdo Market and one minor was injured.
(With inputs from our Tura, Nongstoin correspondents and staff reporter)