…rescue team to continue search for missing bodies

Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

A rumbling sound at around 2:30 am woke up Sonam Dorji and his wife yesterday. Fearing something bad happened, they went out to check. Before they could come out, to their utter shock, they saw their neighbour’s house hit by a flash flood that had brought down mud, muck and stones.

The floodwater hit their neighbour’s house diverting it to theirs. Sonam Dorji ran inside, grabbed his chainsaw and started cutting the jugshing (window bars) of his two-storied traditional house. They managed to escape from the window before the floodwaters forced into the ground floor.

Volunteers and rescue teams dig up the debris looking for those who are missing

Without looking back, they ran away in pitch darkness. It had been raining for the past three days. The couple escaped to the other bank of Kurichhu river at Jasabi in Kurtoe gewog, Lhuentse and sought shelter in the forest.

“I thought we were dead when the flood hit our door. I was shocked, but remembered the power chain to cut our way out of the house,” said Sonam Dorji who is also the village tshogpa. Still shocked by the flash flood and the near escape, Sonam said he had never seen such a disaster.

Sonam and his wife were lucky.

When day broke, a rescue team  of 17 de-suups and local leaders saw the aftermath of the disaster. The flood completely washed away two houses and partially damaged three others. An entire family of five were among the dead when their house was washed away. From one trampled house, the team rescued a couple buried in the debris and referred them to Mongar regional referral hospital.

The team also rescued a mother and a child from one of the damaged houses. They were saved when the side of the house they were sleeping did not collapse when the flood hit their house.

A local resident and a relative to the deceased family, Kingala, said the five who were killed were siblings and cousins, aged between 60 to 70 years. All of them lived in the house constructed seven to eight years ago. He said three sisters were living on the top floor while two brothers were living on the ground floor.

The rescue team was later joined by more than 100 people including personnel from armed forces, forestry officials, de-suup and people from the gewog. The team recovered two more bodies near the dismantled house yesterday afternoon as they cleared the debris in the suspected areas.

Kurtoe Gup, Karpola, said the flash flood occurred along the small irrigation water channel that passes through Jasabi village that has around seven households. It was triggered by continuous heavy rainfall for three nights.

The flash flood also damaged rice fields that are nearing harvest.

Meanwhile, the search team will today continue removing debris to look for the other two missing dead bodies.