GAUHATI – Pounding rain following weeks of heavy downpours triggered a mudslide in northeast India that killed at least 14 people and left more than 30 others missing, authorities said Thursday.
Disaster response workers, police and local villagers were trying to rescue those buried under the debris in Noney, a town near Imphal, the capital of Manipur state.
Seven of the confirmed dead were members of the Territorial Army, state chief minister N. Biren Singh said. He said five Indian Railway officials were among those feared missing.
A railway project is being constructed in the area, where there is a rebel insurgency, and the army personnel were providing security for railway officials overseeing the project. The state’s decades-old insurgency seeks a separate homeland for ethnic and tribal groups.
Continuous rainfall over the past three weeks has wreaked havoc across India's northeast, which has eight states and 45 million people, and in neighboring Bangladesh.
An estimated total of about 200 people have been killed in heavy downpours and mudslides in states including Assam, Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim, while 42 people have died in Bangladesh since May 17. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.
Scientists say climate change is a factor behind the erratic, early rains that triggered the 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.
With rising global temperatures due to climate change, experts say the monsoon season is becoming more variable, meaning that much of the rain that would typically fall throughout the season arrives in a shorter period.