Shillong: Meghalaya government today asked all schools in West Garo Hills district to remain shut for the next 48 hours for the safety of school going children as heavy rainfall has triggered flood and landslips in the state. The order came after a nine year-old school girl was swept in the surging Ganol River in Asibra area of the district headquarters last evening, Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi told PTI.

While the search is on for the missing girl, the district disaster management authority reviewed the situation today, he said.

The order was also issued in view of the IMD warning of heavy to extremely heavy rainfall extending up to August 23-24. “As a matter of abundant precaution, all schools – Lower Primary, Upper Primary, Secondary or Higher Secondary – public or private schools, shall be closed,” Bakshi said in an order.

According to the district administrator, in many cases school going children travel some kms to reach school and are prone to accidents and may be victims of surging rivers and streams, landslides and landslips.

In some areas, school buildings were reported to be unsafe and advisories were being sent to all the schools, including private schools, to that effect from the education department. Bakshi said that a safety audit had indicated that many schools in West Garo Hills were highly vulnerable and prone to disasters in the event of continuous rains.

Meanwhile, flood warnings have been issued by the State Emergency Operations Centre and IMD and people of at least 10 low lying villages in the district have been asked to move to higher and safer grounds.

All district officials and BDOs, police and medical personnel have also been alerted, Bakshi said.

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