Politics

Landslides in Arunachal Kill 14; Part of Trans Arunachal Highway Washed Away

The state government has appealed to the people to move out of flood- and landslide-vulnerable areas.

A burial for those who died in the Arunachal Pradesh landslides. Credit: Facebook/Kon Global Networks

A burial for those who died in the Arunachal Pradesh landslides. Credit: Facebook/Kon Global Networks

New Delhi: As many as 14 people were killed by a landslide triggered by incessant rains in Arunachal Pradesh’s Papum Pare district on Tuesday (July 11). The incident, the enormity of which has shocked the people of the state, took place in the afternoon, reportedly burying alive the victims when eight dwellings in Laptap village of the district’s Sagalee sub-division came under the landslide.

Though initially only five bodies were recovered, later in the day the rest of the nine bodies were pulled out of the debris through a frantic rescue operation carried out by the National Disaster Response Force along with village youth, district commissioner Jalash Pertin told reporters.

As per local media reports, a hill came sliding down along with a part of the Trans Arunachal Highway passing the area. Arunachal Times quoted a villager, identified as Tana Tugu, as saying, “Laptap is located near Yupia-Seppa Trans Arunachal Highway. Sushe Infra (a private firm) is carrying out earth-cutting work at the place. They should have properly constructed retaining walls to avoid this incident.”

While the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh has been reeling under flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rainfall for over a month, the Sagalee area experienced non-stop rain for three days in a row, which, the local administration told reporters, must have been the reason for the landslide.

This week, a helicopter carrying three Air Force personnel was caught in the rain and and the personnel were crushed to death 30 km from the state capital, Itanagar. They were returning from a flood rescue operation in Assam’s Jorhat district.

On July 11, later in the day, chief minister Pema Khandu visited Laptap village and announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs four lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in the landslide. According to a PTI report, Khandu has asked the local administration to provide all necessary assistance like food and medicines to the affected people and shift them to safer locations.

In a tweet soon after the incident, Khandu said, “Repeated administrative advisories have been issued to people to move out from vulnerable areas to prevent loss of lives.”

The state government on January 11 yet again appealed to local residents to shift from vulnerable places. Since surface communication has snapped in the area, the government is using a helicopter service to evacuate patients and other stranded people.

Local MLA and former chief minister Nabam Tuki was the first senior leader from the state to reach the village. Tuki, a member of the state’s Nyishi tribe, said in a Facebook post on July 11, “It is the first of its kind most terrific and horrific incident that took place in the Nyishi belts (of the state).” Both Khandu and Tuki urged the people not to cut off the forests and “maintain the ecology of the surroundings.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also spoken to Khandu to express his condolences to the bereaved families, as have other Union ministers.