Landslide victims recount their survival tales

Published On: July 29, 2018 02:05 AM NPT By: HIMNATH DEVKOTA

RASUWA, July 29: It was almost midnight on Wednesday by the time she finished household chores and went to bed. Her tired body made her fall asleep in no time, but a thunderous noise suddenly woke her up. Pokki Tamang, the local of Timure in Gosainkunda Rural Municipality-2, then peeked outside the window and noticed debris of landslides tumbling down towards her house.

Wasting no time, she immediately rushed and woke up her two daughters, who were still sleeping. A stone hit her hard in the leg and she fainted. When she regained her consciousness, her daughters were crying besides her. And her husband was still unconscious.

“After regaining consciousness, I saw my family but there were no houses around. My husband was still unconscious. Nepal Army personnel came to our rescue after a while,” recalled Pokki. “They took the injured to a nearby Chinese camp. Our family had barely survived and we were feeling very lucky.”

Nyima Dorjee Tamang, another local, does not want to recall that horrid night. Even after three days, the incident still haunts him. “We were deep in our sleep when the earth shook with loud noises. We panicked after seeing big rocks and mud sliding from above and fled for our lives.”

He shared a big rock right above their house had diverted the landslide to other direction and saved their lives. “It was the stone above our house that saved our life,” he added. Nyima recalls people running around blindly in darkness as panic gripped everyone.

Keshav Shrestha, a local of Chimile in Aamachodingmo Rural Municipality-5 is another survivor. He was living in a hotel of Timure after returning from a visit to a nearby marketplace in the day. Loud rumbling of stones and landslides also waked him up. He managed to flee from the hotel by breaking open its window, some moment before the landslide destroyed the lodge he was sleeping in. 

“After fleeing from the lodge, it seemed like landslides were following me wherever I went. I managed to reach an open farm and was finally able to catch my breath,” he said. 

Survivors of the landslides, all of whom had managed to escape the building then reached customs office for shelter. None of them had spare clothes. They spent the night in a very uncomfortable way.

After the dust settled, death toll from Timure landslide reached nine. Twelve more people had sustained injuries. The landslides also obstructed transportations for two days. 

On a positive note, many lives were saved due to timely arrival of security personnel in the incident. Effective coordination and communication medium enabled quick rescue efforts, locals said. The District Administration Office (DAO), Rasuwa, had informed all the stakeholders through telephone and SMS.

Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel managed to rescue 12 people that night alone.

“We got informed that the settlement including police post got buried in the landslide, following which we rushed there immediately,” said Police Inspector Dillip Paudel. “People were screaming in panic when our team reached the site. We managed to rescue them and took them to nearby health post.”

Some of the injured were taken to Timure Health Post while some were taken to Timure-based Chinese Campus for Preliminary Treatment. Seven of the injured returned home after receiving treatment while the rest of the injured were referred to District Hospital for further treatment the next morning, informed Inspector Paudel. 

Chief District Officer Krishna Paudel also credited effective communication for expediting response of rescue operations and for minimizing causalities. “Communication is very necessary during times of disasters. For the same reason, we have been prioritizing development of proper communication channel,” he added. 

Although post mortems are usually performed at the district hospital, it was done in Timure this time for the convenience of family of the deceased, informed Nawaraj Neupane, chief of District Public Health Office, Rasuwa. 

“We didn’t want to add to the troubles of the victims’ families, so post mortem of the deceased was carried out at the Timure Health Post,” he said, adding that the decision was reported all the authorities concerned. 

Financial aid for victims’ family
Local units and District Administration Office has announced financial aid to the victims. Preparation to provide relief and aid is underway, said CDO Paudel. According to him, Rs 100,000 would be provided to each family of the deceased.

“Likewise, we are also planning to provide Rs 10,000 for those families whose makeshift houses were damaged. Likewise, Rs 50,000 would be provided to those families whose permanent houses were damaged by the landslide,” he informed. 

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