At least 16 people were killed and many others buried under debris in a landslide that struck Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China, early Friday morning.
A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was headed to the disaster site.
"As per preliminary information 16 bodies have been recovered from the debris of the landslide. The incident occurred somewhere around 2.30 a.m today (Friday). Authorities are involved in the rescue operations. A NDRF team is on its way," a senior official from the state told IANS.
The landslide at Phamla village in Tawang, near the border with China, was triggered due to incessant rain in the state for weeks which has also led to water logging and flood-type situation in several parts of Arunachal Pradesh, officials said.
"A total of 17 labourers were sleeping inside the tent located near the under construction hotel. The tent was swept away completely burying 15 of them alive while the other two managed to escape with severe injuries," said a senior district administration official. However, one of them succumbed later.
Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.P. Rajkhowa announced ex-gratia relief of Rs.1 lakh for the kin of each of the 16 workers who died in the landslide.
The Governor also called upon the people to be alert and take necessary precautions as the state is experiencing heavy rainfall.
He also advised the state government and district administrations to warn the people living in landslide and flood prone areas.
"Later, one of the seriously injured persons died while on the way to the hospital," he said, adding that the condition of the other injured remains critical.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the deaths.
Taking cognizance of the issue, union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday called up Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul to discuss the floods and the landslide situation.
"Singh has assured full central assistance to Arunachal Pradesh to tackle the floods situation arising due to a swollen Noa Dehing river. He has asked Director General of National Disaster Response Force O.P. Singh to rush rescue teams to the landslide-hit Famla village in Tawang, bordering China," said an official.
A high-level committee chaired by the home minister has also approved assistance of Rs.84.33 crore for Arunachal Pradesh to tackle floods.
District administration officials said: "The camp where the construction labourers were staying had been buried due to the landslide."
The Arunachal Pradesh Governor had reviewed the disaster preparedness of the hill state only last week with Chief Minister Kalikho Pul and called for preparedness amongst the people to face any eventuality in case of disaster.
The Governor had also advised the state government officials to mobilize volunteers and train the youth on disaster response procedure, starting from village level groups.
He said that mock drills must be conducted involving students, volunteers, general public and elders in public places so that they know how to respond during earthquakes or any natural calamities.
He had also advised the government to set up and activate control rooms immediately.