15 die in landslides in Arunachal, CM announces Rs 1 cr relief

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Itanagar, Jun 14 (UNI) At least 15 people, including seven women and four children, were killed in landslides across the state following incessant rain since the past 30 hours, throwing the transport and telecommunication network out of gear.

Police said rescue operations were being hampered by the heavy downpour, adding that the toll could increase to over 20.

The toll was so far available from Itanagar, Nirjuli and Naharlagun only, as the other areas are inaccessible through roads or telephone.

Massive landslides were reported from across the state, with the National Highway as well as other state roads blocked.

People remained stranded in their homes while several houses were buried in the mudslides.

Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu today allotted Rs one crore as immediate relief for the landslide victims while announcing Rs one lakh as ex-gratia payment to the next of kin of each of the deceased person.

Official sources said the Chief Minister also announced ex-gratia compensation to the injured people, ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000.

Mr Khandu, accompanied by state Home Minister Jarbom Gamlin, Finance Minister Kalikho Pul and the Director General of Police, made an alrial survey of the capital city to assess the damage caused by the calamity.

He directed the DGP to depute police personnel and paramilitary forces in the relief work.

He also directed the state Health department to be prepared for any eventuality.

Mr Khandu also cautioned the public to avoid constructing houses near landslide-prone areas or river banks.

Meanwhile, the district administration, with the help of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) MI-72 helicopter, rescued two stranded people from Karsingha.

The IAF also airlifted some critical patients to Guwahati for further treatment.

Telecommunication services, power and water services remained cut off since early morning in the capital city, with mobile phone services restored in a limited manner in the afternoon while internet connectivity remained disrupted.

Arunachal Governor Gen (retd) J J Singh, in a statement, condoled the deaths and instructed the administration to launch rescue operations on a war footing.

He said the Deputy Commissioners had been instructed to update and implement the standard practices of disaster management, even as the administration waged a battle against the weather in rescuing the stranded people.

Pointing out that unplanned buildings had led to such massive devastation of life and property, the Governor said, ''it is not the rain that killed the people, but the mindless constructions without following safety norms that killed them.'' The government is yet to enact any building construction laws in the state.

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