51 killed in Himachal as rain batters state

Shimla, Aug. 14:Devastating rains caused widespread havoc in Himachal Pradesh, resulting in the death of at least 51 people.

Torrential downpours triggered landslides that blocked roads, damaged homes, and claimed lives. A temple gathering turned into a disaster as devotees were buried in the rubble.

Shimla, the capital, witnessed 14 bodies recovered from two landslides, with concerns of more trapped at 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.

Mandi district reported 19 deaths due to rain-related incidents according to deputy commissioner Arindam Chaudhary. Solan district saw 11 casualties, including seven family members. The meteorological office predicted heavy rains in nine districts, issuing a yellow warning. In a second landslide here, five bodies have been pulled out of the rubble in Fagli area while 17 persons rescued, Shimla SP Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi said.

Rescue efforts were hampered by rain in Shimla, where power outages compounded the situation. Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu confirmed nine bodies retrieved from the Shiva temple.

Schools were shut, and 621 roads closed. Hamirpur district reported four deaths, with two missing.

Across districts, lives were lost due to landslides, collapsing houses, and cloudbursts. The tragedy extended to Jadon village, where a family lost seven members. Mandi district saw seven family members swept away. Sambhal near Pandoh reported six bodies recovered.

Chief Minister Sukhu assured all efforts to rescue trapped individuals. “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.”

Union home minister Amit Shah deployed NDRF teams. Joint efforts by the Army, SDRF, NDRF, ITBP, and police aimed to provide relief. Rainfall statistics underscored the severity, with Kangra, Dharamshala, Sundernagar, and Mandi receiving significant rainfall.

( Source : PTI )
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