SHIMLA, Aug 14 (PTI): At least 50 people were killed in Himachal Pradesh, 14 of them in two Shimla landslides including one at a temple as rains wreaked havoc in the state, triggering landslides that blocked key roads and brought down houses, officials said on Monday.
As many as 19 persons died in various rain-related incidents in Mandi district as more bodies were recovered, deputy commissioner Arindam Chaudhary told PTI.
More people are feared trapped under the debris of the Shiv temple in Shimla’s Summer Hill area. The shrine was crowded with devotees, offering prayers on an important day of the holy month of Sawan.
This was one of the two landslides reported from the state capital which is still witnessing intense rain. The toll in the incident may rise, the officials said.
In a second landslide here, five bodies have been pulled out of the rubble in the Fagli area while 17 persons were rescued, Shimla SP Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi told PTI.
Chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu earlier said nine bodies have been pulled out of the debris from a Shiv temple in the Summer Hill area that collapsed and the other site in the Fagli area where several houses were buried under mud and slush.
All schools and colleges in the state were closed on Monday. According to the state emergency operation centre, 621 roads were closed in the state because of the calamity.
The weather office predicted extremely heavy rains in nine out of 12 districts of the state, barring Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti, on Monday and issued a yellow warning for Tuesday.
In Solan district’s Jadon village, seven members of a family were killed in a cloudburst on Sunday night.
Two houses in the district were washed away following the cloudburst. While six people were rescued, seven others were killed, a police official said.
The dead have been identified as Harnam (38), Kamal Kishore (35), Hemlata (34), Rahul (14), Neha (12), Golu (8) and Raksha (12), Superintendent of Police, Solan, Gaurav Singh said.
In Balera panchayat of the district, two children died as their makeshift house collapsed in a landslide and the body of one of them has been recovered. Another woman died in a landslide in Banal village of Ramsheher tehsil, said deputy commissioner of Solan Manmohan Sharma.
In Mandi district, seven members of a family, including a two-year-old, were killed in a landslide late on Sunday night in the Seghli panchayat. Three persons were rescued, deputy commissioner Chaudhary said.
Six bodies have been recovered at Sambhal near Pandoh. The bodies are yet to be identified, the deputy commissioner said, adding two deaths have been reported from the Dharampur area.
Some parts of Balh area and Nerchowk in Mandi were inundated.
One boy died in Sirmaur district, according to reports.
The chief minister visited the site of the temple collapse in Shimla city’s Summer Hill area and said all efforts are being made to rescue people buried underneath the debris.
“Distressing news has emerged from Shimla, where the Shiv Mandir at Summer Hill collapsed as a result of the heavy rainfall. As of now, nine bodies have been retrieved. The local administration is diligently working to clear the debris in order to rescue individuals who may still be trapped. Om Shanti,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Later, talking to reporters at the site, he said, “There was a gathering in the Lord Shiva temple at the time of the incident as it was Monday of the holy month of Sawan. Rescue work is underway on a war footing. All possible efforts are being made to rescue the people buried under the debris.”
Meanwhile, Union home minister Amit Shah said teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are engaged in relief and rescue operations in the hill state and termed the loss of lives due to the deluge as “extremely distressing”.
The UNESCO world heritage Shimla-Kalka railway bridge was badly damaged near Summer Hill in Shimla. The 50-metre bridge was swayed away and the tracks were hanging in the air, the officials said.
Along with the Army, personnel from the SDRF, NDRF, ITBP, and state police, among others, were involved in relief and rescue works, an official statement said.
Deputy commissioner of Shimla Aditya Negi told PTI that many people were feared buried in the two landslides in Summer Hill and Fagli areas. Rescue operations are going on in full swing, the official said.
Several parts of the state capital were without electricity since Sunday night as landslides and uprooted trees damaged power lines.
Himachal Governor Shiv Pratap Shukla also visited the landslide- and cloudburst- hit sites, the officials said.
In Hamirpur district, four persons have died due to incessant rains in the district, officials said.
Hamirpur deputy commissioner Hemraj Bairwa said that two persons are missing. He appealed to all the residents of the district to take special precautions in view of the calamity.
One person was swept away by the flood waters while two others were rescued on Sunday night. In another incident, an elderly woman was buried alive while her son was rescued after their house collapsed due to rains, the officials said.
In Rangas area of Hamirpur, a woman was killed in a landslide, while an 80-year-old man died in a house collapse incident in Bhagatu panchayat in the district. The elderly person’s body has been recovered, the officials said.
Heavy rains have battered Himachal Pradesh since Sunday, triggering landslides that blocked several roads, including the key Shimla-Chandigarh road. In total, 752 roads are blocked in the state as per the state emergency operation centre.
Kangra received 273 mm of rain since Sunday evening followed by Dharamshala 250 mm, Sundernagar 168 mm, Mandi 140 mm, Jubbarhatti 132 mm, Shimla 126 mm, Berthin 120 mm, Dhaula Kuan 111 mm and Nahan 107 mm.
The weather department has issued a yellow warning for heavy rains on Tuesday and predicted a wet spell in the state till August 18.
So far, the state has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 7,171 crore since the onset of monsoon on June 24, as per the state emergency operation centre.
As many as 170 incidents of cloudburst and landslide have been reported in the state in the current monsoon season and about 9,600 houses partially or completely damaged.