Update: The death toll in the devastating landslide that hit Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi has risen to 46, as more bodies were recovered by Sunday late evening.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who visited the site earlier in the day, has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 5 lakh each for next of kin of the deceased.
Update: The death toll in the devastating landslide that hit Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi has risen to 15, as more bodies were recovered by Sunday evening.
Shimla: Seven people were killed after a massive landslide buried two buses they were travelling in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district. Over 20 are missing. The incident happened near Mandi-Pathankot highway late last night.
The army along with the local authorities and the National Disaster Response Force are carrying out a search and rescue operation. The police said five people have been rescued and taken to a hospital in Mandi. The bodies of the driver and the conductor of Chamba depot Chanden Sharma and Satpal, respectively, have been found.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolence. “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 Modi tweeted.
The landslide happened at Kotrupi, 220 kilometres from Shimla. The police said the two buses were parked on the highway while the passengers were out for snacks just before the landslide happened. It swept away the buses 800 metres down into a gorge and buried one of the buses completely.
One of the buses was going from Chamba to Manali and the other from Manali to Katra. Director General of Police Somesh Goyal said eight passengers were travelling in the Manali-Katra bus while 47 passengers were in the other bus.
The mangled chassis of the bus bound for Katra in Jammu have been retrieved, the police said. Rescue workers are finding it difficult to retrieve the Manali-bound bus as it rolled down 800 metres below the road and got stuck under a huge mound of debris.
The number of people who are feared dead in the landslide is likely to increase, Mandi Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam told reporters. Himachal Pradesh Transport Minister GS Bali the number of those feared dead could be as high as 50.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh tweeted he is on his way to the accident site, adding the NDRF has been called in. “Immediate relief will be provided,” Mr Singh said.