One person was buried alive when a massive landslide carried away several vehicles including small cars on National Highway 40 at Umling in Meghalaya, 60 kms from Shillong on Sunday evening. A team of the NDRF, backed up by the state police took nearly 16 hours to clear the road on Monday.
Ri Bhoi district Deputy Superintendent of Police Rymphang Pde said the highway, also called GS Road for the first 100 kms as its connects Guwahati with Shillong, was partially cleared after a night-long exercise by the NDRF, police and local volunteers. “We have cleared a part of the road and regulated traffic since today morning,” he said.
The DySP said while six vehicles were trapped in the massive landslide, all the occupants managed to escape except for one person. The lone victim, identified as one Dhan Bahadur, hailed from Nagaland and his body was dug out from the debris on Sunday evening. A family from Guwahati which was travelling back from Shillong, had a miraculous escape even after the car was pushed away by about 100 metres by the slush.
While the landslide brought down rocks, trees and soil covering about 100 metres of NH40 whose four-laning is still going on, local MLA Jemino Mawthoh blamed the highway construction company engaged by NHAI for frequent landslides occurring in the recent months.
Two major landslides had occurred near this spot on September 22 following heavy rains. On Sunday, however there was no rain, though the exposed hill-slopes had reportedly become soft due to last month’s heavy rains.
“Earth-cutting has been carried out very unscientifically during the four-lane construction, leading to frequent landslides on the Guwahati-Shillong highway. NHAI should institute an inquiry into whether specifications have been followed or not while cutting hills to widen the highway,” the legislator said.