Shimla: At least 51 people were killed as rains wreaked havoc in Himachal Pradesh, triggering landslides that blocked key roads, damaged homes and buried devotees in the rubble of a temple here.
Fourteen bodies were recovered from the sites of two landslides in the state capital, and officials feared there could be more people trapped under the debris of the Shiva temple in Summer Hill area. The shrine was crowded with devotees, offering prayers on an important day of the holy month of Sawan.Nineteen people died in rain-related incidents in Mandi district, Deputy Commissioner Arindam Chaudhary told a news agency. In Solan, another badly affected district, 11 people including seven members of a family have been killed. The weather office predicted extremely heavy rains in nine out of 12 districts of the state, barring Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti, on Monday and issued a yellow warning for Tuesday. Shimla SP Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi told PTI that 14 bodies have been pulled out of the rubble at the two landslide sites of Summer Hill and Fagli, while 17 persons rescued. The officials said heavy rains are hampering rescue operations in Shimla several parts of which were without electricity since Sunday night as landslides and uprooted trees damaged power lines. Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu earlier said nine bodies have been pulled out of the debris from a Shiva temple in the Summer Hill area and the other site in the Fagli area where several houses were buried under mud and slush. All schools and colleges in the state were closed on Monday. According to the state emergency operation centre, 621 roads were closed in the state because of the calamity. In Hamirpur district, four people have died due to incessant rains. Hamirpur Deputy Commissioner Hemraj Bairwa said that two persons are missing. One person was swept away by the flood waters while two others were rescued on Sunday night. In another incident, an elderly woman was buried alive while her son was rescued after their house collapsed due to rains, the officials said. In Rangas area of Hamirpur, a woman was killed in a landslide, while an 80-year-old man died in a house collapse incident in Bhagatu panchayat. In Solan district’s Jadon village, seven members of a family were killed in a cloudburst on Sunday night. Two houses in the district were washed away following the cloudburst. While six people were rescued, seven others were killed, a police official said. The dead have been identified as Harnam (38), Kamal Kishore (35), Hemlata (34), Rahul (14), Neha (12), Golu (8) and Raksha (12), Superintendent of Police, Solan, Gaurav Singh said. In Balera panchayat of Solan, two children died as their makeshift house collapsed in a landslide. Another woman died in a landslide in Banal village of Ramsheher tehsil, said Deputy Commissioner of Solan Manmohan Sharma, adding a person died in Baddi area. In Mandi district, seven members of a family, including a two-year-old, were killed in a landslide late on Sunday night in the Seghli panchayat. Three persons were rescued, Deputy Commissioner Chaudhary said. Six bodies have been recovered at Sambhal near Pandoh. The bodies are yet to be identified, the deputy commissioner said, adding two deaths have been reported from Dharampur area. One boy died in Sirmaur district, according to reports. In Kangra, heavy rains claimed lives of two persons, including an 11-year-old boy, District Magistrate Nipun Jindal said. The chief minister visited the site of the temple collapse in Shimla and said all efforts are being made to rescue people buried underneath the debris. “Distressing news has emerged from Shimla, where the Shiva Mandir collapsed as a result of the heavy rainfall. As of now, nine bodies have been retrieved. The local administration is diligently working to clear the debris in order to rescue individuals who may still be trapped. Om Shanti,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter). Later, talking to reporters at the site, he said, “There was a gathering in the Lord Shiva temple at the time of the incident as it was Monday of the holy month of Sawan. All possible efforts are being made to rescue the people buried under the debris.” Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are engaged in relief and rescue operations in the hill state. The Unesco world heritage Shimla-Kalka railway line was damaged near Summer Hill here after a landslide swept away a 50-metre bridge, leaving a portion of the track hanging in the air. Along with the Army, personnel from the SDRF, NDRF, ITBP, and state police, among others, were involved in relief and rescue works, an official statement said. Deputy Commissioner of Shimla Aditya Negi told PTI that many people were feared buried in the two landslides in Summer Hill and Fagli areas. Heavy rains battered Himachal Pradesh since Sunday, triggering landslides that blocked several roads, including the key Shimla-Chandigarh road. Kangra received 275 mm rainfall since Sunday evening followed by Dharamshala 264 mm, Sundernagar 168 mm, Mandi 167 mm, Berthin 149, Shimla 135 mm, Dhaulakaun 111 mm and Nahan 107 mm. The weather department has predicted a wet spell in the state till August 18. So far, the state has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 7,171 crore since the onset of monsoon on June 24, as per the state emergency operation centre. A total of 170 incidents of cloudburst and landslide have been reported in the state this monsoon season and about 9,600 houses partially or completely damaged.