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Death toll over past week climbs to 78; more rains forecast

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SHIMLA, Aug 19: The death toll in rain-related incidents in Himachal Pradesh over the past week
rose to 78 on Saturday with the recovery of another body from the debris of a collapsed temple
here, officials said as the local MeT sounded an orange alert for the next two days.
The deceased has been identified as Eish Sharma (28). The body of his father P L Sharma, who was
the chairman of the mathematics department at Himachal Pradesh University, was recovered on
Thursday, the officials added.
Of the 78 deaths since Sunday night, 24 were in the three major landslides in Shimla alone — 17 at
the Shiv temple in Summer Hill, 5 in Fagli, and 2 in Krishnanagar, Superintendent, Shimla, Sanjeev
Kumar Gandhi told PTI on Saturday.
Joint operations of the Army, National and State Disaster Response Force, Police and Home Guards
are underway to retrieve the bodies from the landslide rubble and at least three persons are still
feared buried under the temple debris, the SP said.
Drones are being used for identification of high-risk zones and monitoring of sliding sites in the state
capital, he added.
The local MeT office Saturday sounded an orange warning of heavy to very heavy rains on August 20
and 21 and a yellow alert of heavy rains on August 22 and 23. It also cautioned of moderate to high
risk of flash floods in Shimla, Sirmaur and Chamba districts.
Heavy rains can result in landslides, flash floods and an increase in water level in rivers and drains
besides causing damage to the standing crops, fruit plants and young seedlings, the MeT warned.
A red alert is a warning for extremely bad weather conditions that are certainly going to disrupt
travel and power and pose a significant risk to life. An orange warning indicates extremely bad
weather with the potential of disruption in commute with road and drain closures and interruption
of power supply.
On Friday, the Himachal Pradesh government declared the state a “Natural Calamity Affected Area”
in view of the damage caused by heavy rains leading to the loss of human life and extensive damage
to property.
Since the onset of the monsoon on June 24, as many as 221 persons have died in rain-related
incidents in Himachal Pradesh and about 11,900 houses got partially or completely damaged,
according to the state emergency operation centre.
Around 560 roads are still closed in the rain-battered state and 253 transformers and 107 water
supply schemes have been disrupted, the centre said. (PTI)

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