5 workers feared dead after landslide at MHPA dam site

Five Jai Prakash workers are trapped under the debris after a landslide at the MHPA (Mangdechu Hydroelectric Project Authority) dam construction site. Given the nature of the slide officials at the site fear they could all be dead. The incident happened yesterday at around 11 am.

According to the MoEA Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk, the major slide occurred after overburden or soil and stones from above the dam slid down into the pit area of the dam where the workers were at work.

According to the RBP Officer in Charge the landslide occurred because of the unsteady and loose soils and not because of the rain which many would have presumed.

Immediately after the landslide, rescue teams consisting of Department of Disaster Management staff, Desuups, personnel from Royal Bhutan police and local people rushed to the scene to help. However, the continuous rolling boulders made the task very challenging for them.

An excavator was then deployed to clear the some of the debris to make it easier for the rescue teams to operate. Given the challenges the rescue teams are facing the rescue operation would take time to uncover the five buried workers.

There were 15 men who were de-watering the dam pit and doing other works when soil and rocks from the area above the dam unexpectedly slid down. Although 10 workers managed to escape the scene, 5 of the workers who were near the slide area were quickly buried under it.

About 8 workers suffered minor injuries. An excavator is also said to trap under the rubble along with the five workers.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay tweeted that after studying the reports, the landslide should not hinder the construction of the dam site and works could resume again in about 15 days after clearing the accumulated rubble.

In spite of the human casualties the dam structure is said to be intact without much damage.Lyonchhen has also instructed the Minister of Economic Affairs, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk to immediately commission an investigation on the landslide.

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