GUWAHATI, India ( Associated Press) – Rescuers found two bodies after an overnight search for nearly 70 people who went missing after an avalanche triggered by several weeks of heavy rain at a railway construction site in the northeast. India, officials said on Friday.
More than 200 rescuers and police officers use earth-moving equipment such as bulldozers to reach people buried under rubble in Noni, a town near Imphal, the capital of Manipur state. But the terrain makes it difficult to operate heavy equipment, District Judge H. Guitt said, he has requested reinforcements.
Intermittent rain continues in the area.
Guite told the Associated Press that 16 bodies had been retrieved so far after a mound collapsed and was buried in the area of a rail project.
He said the flow of a river has been blocked by debris, creating a dam-like structure in the area. According to media reports, the authorities have asked the people living near the spot to move to safer areas.
State Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said that seven of the dead were members of the Territorial Army. He said that those who are still suspected to be missing include five officials of the Indian Railways.
Army personnel were providing security to railway officials there due to the presence of insurgent insurgency in the area. The state has been in revolt for decades in search of a separate homeland for ethnic and tribal groups.
Most of the victims were sleeping when the landslide occurred in the area in the early hours of Thursday. The Nation World News newspaper quoted a local resident Daichuipao as saying that some survivors remembered being swept away in the rubble from the hill.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has reviewed the situation with the local authorities.
“I have guaranteed all possible support from the Center (Union Government),” he tweeted.