At least 10 passengers were killed after two Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation buses were swept away by a massive landslide in Mandi district, ANI reported. The incident happened a little after midnight on the National Highway connecting Manali and Mandi. One of the buses was carrying around 47 passengers from Chamba to Mandi and the other bus, going from Katra to Manali, had 8 to 10 passengers in it.
The buses had halted for a tea break at Kotrupi in the night when the tragedy struck, said special secretary (Disaster) D D Sharma. The landslide swept away the road and the buses for almost 800 metres down into a gorge and there was no trace of one of the buses which was completely buried under the debris so far.
The Army and NDRF teams have reached the spot and started rescue operation along with the police, administration and local people. The IG central range and Deputy Commissioner and SP are on the spot, Sharma added.
So far ten bodies have been recovered which included the driver and the conductor of Chamba depot bus Chanden Sharma and Satpal.
State transport minister G S Bali said the death toll might rise to 50 and said rescue operations began on war footing. “Rescue operations have been continuing since 2 am and I am in constant touch with the district authorities and other related officials. Owing to the seriousness of the issue, Army has been called,” he said in a Facebook post.
— ANI (@ANI) August 13, 2017
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh left from Shimla by road as bad weather did not permit him to take the aerial route to Mandi. He will visit the accident site and take stock of the situation.
With PTI inputs