6 killed, 8 missing as landslide sweeps away 5 vehicles in Ilam
ILAM, Oct 1: At least six people were killed and eight are missing when a massive landslide buried five vehicles along the Mechi Highway in Kolbung VDC of Ilam district Sunday night.
Only one of the six bodies recovered from the landslide was identified as that of Sharan Pradhan, a resident of Fikkal bazaar in Ilam district, while the five bodies remained unidentified till Monday evening, according to DSP Police Bishnu KC, chief of District Police Office of Ilam.
According to Janak Poudel, a resident of Kanyam VDC-5, which is close to the landslide site, the Harkate-Hanspokhari section of the highway, all the five vehicles swept away by the landslide were heading toward Ilam from Jhapa district. All the vehicles slipped off the edge of the road and fell into the river. Two vehicles were yet to be retrieved till Monday evening.
According to police, it was a truck (Ko 1 Kha 1631) that was first blocked by huge stones brought down by the landslide. Before the truck could move back to avoid the landslide, two pick up vans and two cars came from behind and trapped the truck between them and the landslide. And, before the van and car drivers figured out what had stopped the truck from moving ahead, a massive landside fell over them.
Rabi Gupta of Fikkal bazaar; Subash Pradhan of Sulubung VDC; Padam Pradhan and his wife Mamata; Saroj Tamang, the truck driver from Taplejung district; Dawa Sherpa from Sukiya in India; and Aarati Sherpa, Kesang Sherpa, Bishwaraj Mukhiya, Namgyal Bhutiya, Chhoden Bhutiya, Yangkila Sherpa and Ajeet Yolmu are among the dead or missing.
Seven people who were travelling in the vehicles that were swept away survived the landslide. They were rescued by a team of police that reached the landslide site Sunday night. However, police could not begin the search for other missing people in the night. Rescue work was started only on Monday morning.
"We searched for the missing people all thorough Monday," said DSP KC. "We will continue search again on Tuesday. However, chances of rescuing alive the missing people are very slim."
The locals say the landslide was triggered by heavy rains that began Sunday afternoon and continued till the night. It was drizzling in and around the landslide site till Monday morning. "It was the heaviest rainfall in the last 25 hours," said Narayan Poudel, 65, of Kanyam VDC-5. "I had neither experienced such a heavy rainfall in a long time nor had I heard about any landslide on this highway. It was unexpected."