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  India   All India  14 Aug 2017  Landslide kills 48 in Himachal Pradesh

Landslide kills 48 in Himachal Pradesh

Published : Aug 14, 2017, 4:30 am IST
Updated : Aug 14, 2017, 4:30 am IST

2 buses fall into gorge, toll likely to rise; rescue work to resume today.

Army soldiers and rescue workers search for bodies after a landslide in Himachal Pradesh. (Photo: AP)
 Army soldiers and rescue workers search for bodies after a landslide in Himachal Pradesh. (Photo: AP)

Chandigarh/Shimla: A massive landslide buried two Himachal Pradesh Roadways buses, killing at least 48 people and injuring several others at Kotpuri near Padhar on the Mandi–Pathankot national highway, officials said on Sunday.

The death toll could rise much higher as at least 50 to 60 passengers are believed to have been travelling in the two buses hit by the landslide, but there is no exact count. The landslide is learnt to have been triggered by a cloudburst. In addition, more vehicles and people were believed to have been at the spot when an entire hillside collapsed late Saturday night. Some houses too were buried under the debris. “Forty-eight bodies have been recovered, and of these 23 have been identified,” an official said.

Rescue operations were suspended late on Sunday evening as there were fears of more landslides, an official said. The rescue work will resume on Monday morning. Teams of the National Disaster Response Force, the Army and the state police rushed to the spot and heavy earth-moving machinery was deployed at the gorge where the two buses lay buried under a heap of debris.

The buses are believed to have stopped for tea around midnight at a roadside stall at Kotrupi near Padder in Mandi district when the landslide struck, and swept them nearly 1 km into a gorge. Most passengers in the HRTC buses were from Chamba and Pathankot. One was an AC bus from Pathankot depot (HP63-5840) and the other an ordinary bus from Chamba depot (HP73-4423).

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh visited the spot. At that time, he said eight passengers were travelling in the Manali-Katra Volovo bus, of whom three had lost their lives, while five others were rescued and taken to the zonal hospital in Mandi.

There were around 47 passengers in the second bus which was on its way from Manali to Chamba, an official said. The chief minister said the state government would bear medical expenses of the injured. He also met the bereaved family members and expressed condolences.

State health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, transport minister G.S. Bali and rural development and panchayati raj minister Anil Sharma also reached the spot. Mr Thakur announced financial assistance of `4 lakhs each to the next of kin of the deceased, while Mr Bali said `1 lakh would be given to each bereaved family by HRTC.

The massive landslide, covering an area of more than 250 metres, may have swept away some other vehicles too and damaged some houses, an official said. The highway was closed and hundreds of vehicles were stranded on both sides, officials said.

A disaster management official said that a team of forensic experts had also been called as several of the bodies were mutilated.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths. “Pained by the loss of lives due to landslide-related accidents in HP’s Mandi district. My condolences with the families of the deceased,” the PM tweeted. “I pray for the quick recovery of those injured,” he added.

Tags: national highway, national disaster response force, himachal pradesh landslide
Location: India, Chandigarh