On Saturday, heavy rain and falling rocks hampered rescue workers who have so far recovered 26 bodies from a mudslide that devastated a railway construction site in northeastern India, officials said.
The AP reported that the rescue work is expected to continue for two days amid rugged mountainous terrain, with little hope of finding survivors among the 37 people still missing since last Wednesday night.
Pankaj Kavidayal, a rescue official, mentioned that 21 of the 26 confirmed dead were members of the military. Army personnel was providing security for the railway officials due to the decades-old insurgency seeking a separate homeland for ethnic and tribal groups in the area.
More than 250 rescuers and police, using bulldozers and other equipment, took part in the operation in Noney, a town near Imphal, the capital of Manipur state. They were warned of fresh mudslides reported in the region on Saturday
Excavators were also used to search for bodies in a river.
Kavidayal added that 30 soldiers and 5 civilians have been rescued from the debris of the entirely swept away
railway station, staff residential quarters, and other infrastructure that was being built.
Continuous rainfall over the past three weeks has wreaked havoc across India’s northeast, a region that includes eight states with a total of 45 million people, along with neighboring Bangladesh.
An estimated 200 people have been killed in heavy rains and mudslides in states including Assam, Manipur, Tripura, and Sikkim, while 42 have died in Bangladesh since May 17. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced.
Scientists say climate change is a factor behind the erratic, early rains that triggered unprecedented floods. Monsoon rains in South Asia typically begin in June, but torrential rain lashed northeastern India and Bangladesh as early as March this year.