'How Will We Live?': Kin of Manipur Landslide Victims Battle Grief, Uncertainty

As of 8 July, 47 bodies have been recovered, 18 have been rescued, and 14 are still missing.

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Grief, loss, and anxiety have gripped the families of the 79 people who were either killed, injured, or are still missing in the landslide in Manipur.

The Tupul railway yard construction site in Manipur's Noney was hit by a severe landslide in the wee hours of 29 June. The area where the incident occurred housed workers, primarily migrant laboureres working at the construction site, locals, and territorial army personnel.

Rescue efforts underway at the mishap site.

(Photo: Sourced by The Quint)

As of 8 July, 47 bodies have been recovered, 18 have been rescued, and 14 are still missing.

'He Was Supposed To Come Home in August' 

Thirty-year-old Shankar Chhetri was a civic volunteer in his hometown of Nagarkata in West Bengal. He had recently joined the army. It was only a month ago that he was transferred from Darjeeling to Manipur.

He was one of the victims of the landslide. Chhetri succumbed to his injuries at the site of the incident.

Chhetri's wife Poonam told The Quint that she had spoken to him the night before the landslide. He had requested her to recharge his mobile phone so could check up on a few acquaintances, she said.

"We spoke the night before he died. I told him that I was sick. He asked me to rest and enquired about sending our kid to school."
Poonam Chhetri, Shankar Chhetri's Wife

Chhetri met his family in March before going to Manipur, but little did they know that it would be their final goodbye. He was supposed to come back home in August for his father's treatment.

On the day of the incident, Poonam tried calling him several times, but his phone went unanswered before being switched off.

"His 'guruji' then called me and asked me how we were related. I told him that I am his wife. He wanted to speak to my father-in-law. I enquired about Shankar's whereabouts, but he didn't answer me. He informed my father-in-law that Shankar was no more."
Poonam Chhetri, Shankar Chhetri's Wife
Chhetri is survived by his wife and five-year-old daughter.

The Harrowing Wait for News

Twenty-six labourers from Assam, most of whom were from Morigaon, were working at the construction site. The bodies of 11 of them have been recovered, while five have been rescued. The others are still missing.

Thirty-five-year-old Ramu Phukan's wife has only one request for the administration – if not alive, at least bring his mortal remains back home. Phukan is one of the missing persons.

Ramu Phukon.

(Photo: Sourced by The Quint)

He is the sole breadwinner of the family. His wife has had to engage in daily-wage labour to be able to feed herself and their three children – all of this while she waits for some news about her husband.

"My husband was working to run the house. Now he's no more. How will I live? Hope the government will help us."
Ramu Phukon's Wife

Not too far from Phukan's house, 23-year-old Devojit Phukon's brother is anxious about raising money for his niece's treatment.


Phukon was working at the railway construction site to earn money for his treatment and also to secure both his daughters' futures. He succumbed to his injuries at the site of the incident.

Debojit Phukon.

(Photo: Sourced by The Quint)

As families wait for some news about their loved ones, it's a race against time for the authorities to save the lives of those buried under the mountain of mud and rocks.

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Topics:  manipur   Manipur Landslide 

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