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At least 24 die in India as cyclone Remal brings heavy rains

Heavy downpours have been reported from various parts of the region, covering seven states
People holding umbrellas walk past a damaged house and uprooted tree during rainfall in Guwahati on May 28 following the landfall of cyclone Remal in India.

People holding umbrellas walk past a damaged house and uprooted tree during rainfall in Guwahati on May 28 following the landfall of cyclone Remal in India. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 29, 2024 09:42 AM GMT
Updated: May 29, 2024 10:29 AM GMT

At least 24 people were killed in landslides and flash floods as cyclone Remal hit India’s northeastern region, forcing Church groups to join government agencies in relief activities.

Seventeen people were killed in landslides across Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state, on May 28 when a stone quarry collapsed.

Another six people were killed in West Bengal state, and its coastal areas suffered extensive damage to infrastructure and property, state officials said.

A 17-year-old boy was killed, and several others were injured amid heavy rains accompanied by strong winds in Assam in the impact of Remal officials said.

Several of the 17 people killed in Mizoram are Christians, according to Bishop Stephen Rotluanga of Aizawl, which covers the entire state.

The bishop told UCA News on May 29 that he is “afraid the causality could be more in the different parts of the state as heavy rain and storms are reported resulting in landslides, tree uprooting and felling, and property loss.”

However, no church has reported damages or property loss, the bishop said, adding, “The situation here is quite scary, but the government and local people are working hand in hand and helping with the relief and rescue work.”

The region has been facing such disasters “almost every year due to heavy rain and storms,” the bishop said, but the Christian “community here is very strong and stands for each other during difficult times.”

The Young Mizo Association, the largest non-profit organization of the Mizo tribal people, is present in all villages and mission stations and engages itself “in helping the people,” the prelate said.

Jonas Lakra, Caritas India Zonal Program Lead-Northeast region, told UCA News that besides the deaths in Mizoram, they also get reports of deaths and property destruction from other parts of the region. “But Mizoram is hardest hit,” he said.

Caritas India, the social service wing of the National Bishops' Conference, along with its diocesan partners, “are working at the ground level, assessing the situations and giving us feedback. Once the assessment is complete, Caritas India will plan the future course,” he said.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma has announced a financial aid of 150 million Indian rupees (some US$1.8 million) to the landslide victims.

A state government spokesman said 400,000 rupees each will be given to the kin of those who died in the landslide.

The Mizoram government has ordered the closure of all schools and institutions, except those rendering essential services, as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned on May 28 of extremely heavy rainfall across the state for a few days.

Several parts of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state, witnessed traffic blockages because of waterlogged roads and uprooted trees.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed on X that Cyclone Remal had caused much damage, but the loss of lives was relatively less due to timely government actions.

Heavy downpours have been reported from various parts of the region, covering seven states, three of which—Mizoram, Nagaland, and Meghalaya—have a Christian majority.

A state government official in Manipur said the rain-hit situation in the hilly Ukhrul region has led to widespread reports of landslides, including the sweeping away of electric poles at Phungreitang.

In Nagaland, Disaster Management authorities have cautioned against heavy rainfall and advised people not to venture out near rivers. A heavy downpour is expected in the state's foothill areas this week.

Assam is vulnerable to annual floods, and the seven northeastern states and Sikkim generally experience heavy rainfalls.

Last year, seven workers were killed in Mizoram’s Mamit town when a stone quarry collapsed. In 2022, 12 workers were killed in another similar collapse.

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