Aizawl: The death toll in Saturday's landslide in Mizoram's capital Aizawl rose to 17 on Monday, as Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla announced setting up of an inquiry commission to probe the circumstances leading to the disaster. Aizawl SP (Traffic) Lallianmawia said four bodies were recovered since Sunday night, while two more bodies were trapped under concrete slabs in such a way that it was difficult retrieve them.
"Some parts of the two bodies are visible but it will take time to dig them out as it is a steep terrain," he said. The massive landslide at Laipuitlang area in northern part of the state capital early on May 11 was triggered by a cyclonic storm and heavy pre-monsoon rainfall.
A PWD office building, which had been vacated about a year ago after a crack developed on it, collapsed under the impact of the landslide and fell on nine houses below killing these 17 people. Lal Thanhawla said that a one-man probe panel of Dr Franklin Laltinkhuma, the district magistrate of Aizawl, would enquire into the circumstances of the collapse of the PWD building which swept nine houses and claimed 17 lives.
Stating that the commission was asked to submit its report within seven days, the chief minister also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh for the family members of each of those killed. Meanwhile, opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) chief Zoramthanga demanded that a judicial probe be instituted to investigate the disaster.
Zoramthanga alleged that the disaster was caused by 'criminal negligence' on the part of the PWD, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, who holds PWD portfolio, and his younger brother Lal Thanzara, the parliamentary secretary for PWD. The enquiry must fix responsibilities and those responsible must be punished, said the former chief minister.
The MNF youth front earlier demanded resignation of the chief minister by owning responsibility of the disaster. A senior advocate on Monday lodged an FIR seeking a police investigation the cause of the disaster.