Shimla, Aug 14, 2023 (IANS): At least 41 people were killed and 13 went missing on Monday owing to heavy rainfall that triggered statewide flash floods and landslides, officials said.
The deceased included 10 in state capital Shimla in two landslide incidents, including the caving in of a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Nine people are reported to be missing and the search operation is underway.
Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu took stock of the situation in the landslide-hit Summer Hill area where the temple caved in, and directed the officials to speed up the rescue operation.
The Chief Minister told the media that there was a gathering at the Lord Shiva temple at the time of the disaster owing to the holy month of Shravan.
He said many people are feared to be caught under the debris due to heavy landslide. The work of removing the debris in search of people is underway.
Sukhu said the entire state is dealing with a grim situation as cloudbursts and landslides hit many parts, resulting in heavy loss of life and property.
“I pray for those killed and want to assure the affected families that the government stands with them in this hour of calamity. All affected families would be provided all possible help by the government,” the Chief Minister said.
Sukhu said the state has been dealing with the aftermath of the destruction caused due to incessant rains since July 7.
The recent spate of rains has once again brought significant challenges as heavy loss to life and property is being registered.
The Chief Minister feared the toll could increase further as many people are still caught up in the debris in various parts of the state.
He said the government is constantly monitoring the situation and doing its best to safely evacuate the stranded people.
The Chief Minister said he has been in touch with the Deputy Commissioners of all districts and is taking constant updates about the situation and the ongoing relief and rescue works.
Sukhu said all the district administrators and officials concerned have been instructed to remain alert as the water level of the rivers in the state has been rising.
He advised people to stay away from rivers and drains.
After taking stock of the relief and rescue work in Summer Hill, Sukhu reached Fagli where five people lost their lives due to a landslide while five others were rescued.
In another natural disaster, 10 persons were buried alive in the Kandaghat area of Solan district after a cloudburst that triggered a flash flood and landslides.
The disaster occurred at around 1.30 a.m. on Mondy at Jadon village in Dhawla sub-tehsil, some 45 km from the state capital.
The rainfall havoc has caused significant damage to infrastructure and affected the lives of many people in the hill state.
In Mandi district, 14 people died due to rain-related disasters. Four people are missing.
Two houses and a cowshed were damaged at Majhvar village, where two persons are reported to be missing.
The Chief Minister said the first priority of the government is to ensure that the problems being faced by the people at this hour of distress are minimised.
“The Independence Day parade has been scaled down. This will make sure that maximum number of rescue forces is engaged in relief and rescue operations on a war-footing.”
He also said that an NDRF contingent from Nalagarh has reached Shimla.
Sukhu said about 1,200 roads have been affected in the state and efforts are being made to clear them for traffic as soon as possible. He assured that 600 roads will be opened by Monday evening and 300 more by Tuesday.
Solan, Shimla, Mandi and Hamirpur districts have been the worst hit by the rains. The Chief Minister directed the officials to extend full help to the affected people, and said that the trees which are posing danger to roads and buildings should be immediately identified and the report should submitted to him by Tuesday morning.
He also directed to ensure adequate water supply to the people by restoring the affected drinking water schemes at the earliest.
The Chandigarh-Manali highway has been shut for traffic between Mandi and Kullu since Friday, while alternative routes between Mandi and Kullu were also blocked due to landslides on Monday.
The flow of the Beas River between Manali and Kullu has increased considerably.