New Delhi, July 9, 2023:(PTI) Torrential rains pounded several parts of north India on Sunday with 18 people killed in landslides and other rain-related incidents, while most rivers, including the Yamuna in Delhi, were in spate. In cities and towns across the region, many roads and residential areas were submerged in knee-deep water with the civic system unable to hold on in the face of record rains.
Frightening images of the chaos unleashed by the rains—vehicles floating like paper boats on inundated roads, muddy waters gushing into residential areas, temples and other structures submerged on the banks by the swollen rivers and land cave-ins—were shared online by people from Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi, among other places.
Heavy downpour warnings have been issued for certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, while in Delhi, which recorded its highest rainfall in a single day in July since 1982, authorities have cautioned over rising water level of the Yamuna.
While Delhi received 153 mm of rain in 24 hours ending 8:30 on Sunday, Chandigarh and Ambala in Haryana reported record rainfall of 322.2 mm and 224.1 mm, respectively, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
Solan in Himachal Pradesh received 135 mm of rain on Sunday, breaking a 50-year-old record of 105 mm of rain in a day in 1971, while Una received the highest rainfall after 1993, Shimla Meteorological Office Director Surender Paul said.
With normal life paralysed, schools in Delhi and its adjoining NCR cities of Gurugram and Noida will be closed on Monday, according to officials. In Ghaziabad, schools will remain closed for two more days due to rains and thereafter, till July 17 due to ‘kanwar yatra’.
Railway services have also been hit. The Northern Railways said it has cancelled around 17 trains and diverted around 12 others, while traffic has been suspended at four locations due to waterlogging.
In three separate incidents of landslides in Himachal Pradesh, where a red alert of extremely heavy rains has been issued for 10 districts, five people were killed.
Three members of a family were killed in a house collapse following a landslide in Shimla district’s Kotgarh area, while one death each was reported from Kullu and Chamba districts.
In Rajhana village, on the outskirts of Shimla city, a girl was buried as a huge amount of debris swept by rainwater fell on her house. Officials said an elderly woman was reportedly trapped under debris and rescue operations are underway.
Fourteen major landslides and 13 flash floods have been reported in the past 36 hours while over 700 roads have been closed, according to the Himachal Pradesh emergency operation centre.
The Himachal Pradesh government has closed all schools and colleges affiliated with the state for two days—Monday and Tuesday.
In neighbouring Uttarakhand, three pilgrims drowned in the Ganga after their jeep fell into the river amid a landslide near Gular on the Rishikesh-Badrinath National Highway.
State Disaster Response Force and police officials said there were 11 people in the jeep. Five people have been rescued, while a search is on for three others, they said and added that three bodies have been recovered by rescue personnel.
In the Kashipur area of the state, two houses collapsed killing a couple and injuring their granddaughter.
Two people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir after a landslide hit a passenger bus in Doda district, while in Ladakh’s Kargil district, a man was killed after his vehicle got crushed under a boulder that rolled down a hillock along the along Leh-Srinagar national highway.
Bodies of two soldiers, who were swept away by flash floods while crossing the Dogra Nallah on Saturday, were recovered in Poonch district of the Union Territory.
However, there was some relief in Srinagar from heavy downpour and the yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath resumed on Sunday from the Panjtarni and the Sheshnag base camps after remaining suspended for three days.
There were also reports of snowfall from high-altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh, where a red alert has been issued for heavy rains.
In hill states, flash floods stranded many with about 200 people marooned in Chandratal in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul and Spiti, and a part of the Chandigarh-Manali highway washed away by the surging waters of the Beas river. Landslides and cave-ins due to these floods have also led to villages in mountainous regions in Uttarakhand becoming inaccessible by road.
In Himachal Pradesh, there were also reports of shops being swept away in Manali, and vehicles being washed away in flash floods at Nullah in Kullu, Kinnaur and Chamba.
Heavy monsoon rains in several parts of Punjab and Haryana led to massive waterlogging and flooding in low-lying areas, prompting authorities to swing into action in the worst-hit places.
The Punjab government has directed ministers, deputy commissioners, senior superintendents of police and other officials concerned to visit the affected areas and provide the required assistance to people.
In Haryana, a flood control room has been established amid three rivers Markanda, Ghaggar and Tangri flowing close to the danger mark.
Heavy rainfall led to severe waterlogging and traffic congestion in several parts of Gurugram in the state with the administration advising corporate houses to work from home on Monday and schools to announce a holiday.
In Gurugram district’s Gairatpur Bas village, a man drowned in a pond during heavy rains, while the search for another is underway, according to officials. The cousins from Rajasthan’s Churu district had gone to take a bath, they said.
In response to heavy rains, the Delhi government announced a closure of all schools on Monday and cancelled the Sunday leave of government officials, instructing them to be in the field. Waterlogging led to traffic woes with people wading through inundated roads, vehicles getting stuck and underpasses flooded.
Widespread rainfall was also reported in Uttar Pradesh where a 10-year-old girl died on Sunday when a tree branch fell on the tin shed of her house in Kaushambi following rains. In Muzaffarnagar, a woman and her six-year-old daughter were killed after the roof of their house collapsed due to heavy rain.
On Saturday, two people were killed and three injured in separate incidents of lightning strike in Ballia.
In Rajasthan, a few areas received heavy to very heavy rains while moderate to heavy rainfall occurred in many areas.
The IMD said the bountiful rains in many parts of India in the first eight days of July have bridged the rainfall deficit for the entire country. The cumulative rainfall in the monsoon season has reached 243.2 mm, which is two per cent above the normal of 239.1 mm.
However, there are large-scale regional variations in rainfall.While the eastern and northeastern region has recorded a deficiency of 17 per cent (375.3 mm against a normal of 454 mm), north India has witnessed 59 per cent excess rainfall (199.7 mm against a normal of 125.5 per cent), the latest IMD data showed.
Central India, where a large number of farmers rely on monsoonal rains, has recorded 264.9 mm rainfall against a normal of 255.1 mm, an excess of four per cent. The rainfall deficiency in south India has reduced from 45 per cent to 23 per cent.
The IMD said an interaction between a western disturbance and monsoonal winds is leading to an intense rainfall spell over northwest India, including Delhi which experienced the season’s first “very heavy” rainfall.