Rescue operations resumed early Monday morning in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh where at least 46 bodies were recovered following a landslide. The security forces also brought relief materials to be distributed for those stuck in the region.
Here is all that happened yesterday:
Massive landslide hits two moving buses
A massive landslide struck two moving Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses at Kotrupi on the Pathakot-Mandi-Manali-Leh National Highway in the wee hours of Sunday. At least 40 passengers, most of them locals, were travelling in one of the buses. The other one was on the opposite direction from Manali to Katra (Jammu). The five people who survived were from the second bus. According to sources, the survivors got off the bus minutes ago. Special secretary (Disaster) D D Sharma said that the tragedy struck when the bus stopped for a tea break at Kortupi in the middle of the night. He added that the landslide swept away the buses for almost 800 metre down into a gorge.
At least 46 bodies recovered so far
As the rescue teams reached the spot after the landslide, they started working towards helping the victims who were struck under the debris. Early reports of the landslide indicated six people had died, while 6 others were injured. But officials indicated that the numbers are expected to rise up. In the large-scale search operation carried out by the district administration, which later also called in the Army and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), 46 bodies were recovered by late evening on Sunday.
Himachal: Search & Rescue teams of NDRF conduct retrieval operations at Mandi landslide site; ops resumed this morning. 46 dead so far pic.twitter.com/hCidE7AUgn
— ANI (@ANI) August 14, 2017
In a Facebook post, state transport minister G S Bali on Sunday said that the death toll may reach 50. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh also left from Shimla on road to reach Mandi, as he could not fly due to bad weather.
Heavy rainfall in region caused troubles in rescue operations
According to sources, heavy rainfall int he area and suspected cloudburst on the other side of the nountainous region was fallout of the incident. The rainfall also caused troubles during the rescue operations. Speaking to ANI, Deputy Commissioner of Mandi, Sandeep Kadam said, “The rain has hampered the rescue operations which is making it tough for the police and home guard.”
How the leaders have reacted
On Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences over the incident. “Pained by the loss of lives due to landslide related accidents in HP’s Mandi district. My condolences with the families of the deceased,” he said. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh reached the site of the incident to take a stock of the situation. Describing the tragedy as “unpredictable”, CM announced Rs 5-lakh compensation for the kin of the deceased. “The government will take all possible steps to trace the bodies and rescue any survivors and stand by the families that lost their near and dear in the tragedy,” he said.
Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur, Transport minister G S Bali and Rural Developlment and Panchayati Raj minister Anil Sharma also reached the spot. Thakur announced a financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh for the kin of the deceased. Bali also announced Rs 1 lakh for the kins of the deceased.
Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal also reached the spot to take a stock of the situation and spoke to family members of the victims.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi also expressed his condolences on Twitter and said, “My condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in Mandi. Request Himachal government and local Congress units to provide all possible help.” Union Health Minister J P Nadda offered prayers for the victims. “Deeply saddened to know about this unfortunate accident at Padhar on Mandi NH, Himachal Pradesh. My prayers are with the families of victims.”
Mandi district authorities issues helpline numbers for civilians
Mandi district administration issued help line numbers for the civilians. The numbers to contact, in case of emergency are, 1905- 226201, 226202, 226203, 1905- 235538 and 094180-01051.
In another notification, district administration advised people to take Mandi-Kullu route via Kotla due to risk of landslides.