Five people were killed and 13 others were feared dead in separate incidents of flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh, officials said on Saturday.
Twenty-two people, who were stranded following a flash flood in the state's Hamirpur district, were evacuated safely, they said.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed condolences over the deaths and said that the administration is carrying out rescue operations on a war footing in the affected districts.
According to officials, three people were killed after their house collapsed following a landslide triggered by rains in the Chamba district. The Chamba district emergency operation center (DEOC) said the landslide occurred at Banet village in Chowari tehsil around 4.30 am following which a house collapsed, killing three people.
In Mandi, a girl was killed and 13 others were feared dead in a landslide and flash flood triggered by heavy rains, officials said. The body of a girl was recovered about half a kilometer away from her house in Baghi Nullah on Mandi-Katola-Prashar road on Friday night, while five members of her family were washed away, state disaster management department officials said. Several families also left their houses located between Baghi to Old Katola areas after a cloud burst and took shelter at safe places, the department added.
Besides, eight members of another family are also feared buried under the debris of their house following a landslide at Kashan village in the Gohar development block, the department added. However, the bodies have not been retrieved yet, it said.
Several roads in the Mandi district have also been blocked following flash floods and multiple landslides. Several vehicles were damaged and a number of villagers were stuck in their houses as water entered their houses and shops at Balh, Sadar, Thunag, Mandi, and Lamathach, officials said. Schools in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district will remain closed on Saturday due to ongoing incessant rains, a senior administration official said. Several vehicles parked along the road were damaged and residents remained stuck inside their houses, they said.
In Kangra, a 'kacha' house collapsed killing a nine-year-old child, officials said. Himachal Pradesh's disaster management department has issued a warning for landslides due to heavy rains predicted in the state till August 25.
Precipitation is likely to increase during the next 24 hours for the subsequent three-four days with spells of heavy rainfall in parts of Kangra, Chamba, Mandi, Kullu, Shimla, Sirmaur, Solan, Hamirpur, Una, and Bilaspur districts, state disaster management department director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta said. Mokhta has asked district emergency operations centers (DEOCs) to take adequate safety measures such as landslides, flash floods, cloudbursts, rock slides, a sudden increase in water level in rivers, poor visibility, and disruption of essential services may occur during the period.
Meanwhile, the Kangra district administration has issued an advisory, asking tourists and people to not go near rivers and streams after the India Meteorological Department predicted moderate to heavy rainfall till August 28.
Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, Dr. Nipun Jindal said, "Tourists and the general public are advised not to go near rivers, streams and other water bodies. Similarly areas vulnerable to the landslide should also be avoided". He also asked authorities to remain alert and respond to any situation that may arise out of the situation. Jindal said the
The deputy director of the education department has already been instructed to conduct online classes in schools.