Shimla: At least 48 people were killed and several injured after a massive landslide buried two government-run buses in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district, officials said on Sunday. The number of people killed could rise as over 50 passengers were travelling in the two buses hit by the landslide at Kotpuri near Padhar on the Mandi-Pathankot national highway which was triggered by a cloudburst, they said.
Some other vehicles may also have been hit by the landslide, the officials said. “48 bodies have been recovered and of these 23 have been identified,” an official said.
Rescue operations were suspended late evening as there were apprehensions of more landslides, he said. The rescue work will resume today.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the army and the police were sent in and heavy earth-moving machinery called in at the gorge where the two buses lay buried under a heap of debris.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the spot and said the rescue operation would continue till the last body was recovered. The state government would bear medical expenses of the injured passengers, he said. Mr Singh also met the family members of the victims. The state government has announced Rs. 5 lakh compensation for the family of those killed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also 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: PM
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 13, 2017
State Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur, Transport Minister G S Bali and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Anil Sharma also visited the spot.
The massive landslide, covering an area of more than 250 metres, swept away two other vehicles also and damaged some houses.
The highway was closed and hundreds of vehicles were stranded on either side, officials said.
D D Sharma, Director, Disaster management, Himachal Pradesh government said that a team of forensic experts had also been called considering that several of the bodies were mutilated.