Shimla: At least 19 people were killed and five others went missing in incidents of landslide, flash flood and cloud burst triggered by heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh in the past 24 hours, State Disaster Management Department Director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta said on Saturday. The maximum damage has been reported from Mandi, Kangra and Chamba districts, he said, adding that so far 34 weather-related incidents have been reported in the state.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed condolences over the deaths and said that the administration is carrying out rescue operations on a war footing in the affected districts.
According to officials, three people were killed after their house collapsed following a landslide triggered by rains in the Chamba district. The Chamba district emergency operation centre (DEOC) said the landslide occurred at Banet village in Chowari tehsil around 4.30 am following which a house collapsed, killing three people.
In Mandi, a girl was killed and 13 others were feared dead in a landslide and flash flood triggered by heavy rains, officials said. The body of a girl has recovered about half a km away from her house in Baghi Nullah on Mandi-Katola-Prashar road on Friday night, while five members of her family were washed away, state disaster management department officials said.
Several families also left their houses located between Baghi to Old Katola areas after a cloud burst and took shelter at safe places, the department added. Besides, the department added that eight members of another family are also feared buried under the debris of their house following a landslide at Kashan village in Gohar development block.
However, the bodies have not been retrieved yet, it said. Several roads in Mandi district have also been blocked following flash flood and multiple landslides. Several vehicles were damaged and a number of villagers were stuck in their houses as water entered their houses and shops at Balh, Sadar, Thunag, Mandi and Lamathach, officials said.
Schools in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district will remain closed today due to ongoing incessant rains, a senior administration official said. Several vehicles parked along the road were damaged and residents remained stuck inside their houses, they said.
In Kangra, a ‘kacha’ house collapsed killing a nine-year-old child, officials said. In another incident in this district, a 48-year-old man, identified as Bal Mukund, was killed in Lahar village following a landslide, they said.
Officials said two pillars of the Kangra valley Chakki river rail bridge were also washed away due to a flash flood. The Pathankot -Mandi national highway has been closed for traffic following landslides at different places. Himachal Pradesh’s disaster management department has issued a warning for landslide due to heavy rains predicted in the state till August 25.
Precipitation is likely to increase during the next 24 hours for the subsequent three-four days with spells of heavy rainfall in parts of Kangra, Chamba, Mandi, Kullu, Shimla, Sirmaur, Solan, Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur districts, state disaster management department director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta said.
Mr Mokhta asked district emergency operations centres (DEOCs) to take adequate safety measures such as landslides, flash floods, cloudbursts, rock slides, a sudden increase in water level in rivers, and poor visibility and disruption of essential services may occur during the period. Meanwhile, the Kangra district administration has issued an advisory, asking tourists and people not to go near rivers and streams after the India Meteorological Department predicted moderate to heavy rainfall till August 28.
Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, Nipun Jindal said, “Tourists and the general public are advised not to go near rivers, streams and other water bodies. Similarly areas vulnerable to the landslide should also be avoided”. He also asked authorities to remain alert and respond to any situation that may arise out of the situation. Jindal said the deputy director of the education department has already been instructed to conduct online classes in schools.