Three more bodies were recovered from the landslide site in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district raising the death toll to 14 with the recovery of four more bodies as the rescue operation resumed early on Thursday, officials said.
The rescue work, being carried out jointly by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the members of local police and home guards, resumed at 6 am on Thursday.
Three bodies were recovered from the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus, which, along with other vehicles, was buried under the debris, State Disaster Management Director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta said.
The bus was found in a badly damaged condition, he added. Another vehicle, a Bolero, still lies buried under the rubble.
The authorities had suspended the operation on Wednesday at around 10 pm.
The HRTC bus, which had been on its way from Reckong Peo to Haridwar via Shimla, was hit by the boulders after a landslide around Wednesday noon near Chaura village on national highway-5 in Nigulsari area of Nichar tehsil.
Thirteen people were rescued with injuries on Wednesday and sent to a Bhawanagar community health centre (CHC) for treatment.
Several others are still feared buried under the debris.
Eight of the dead were found trapped in a Tata Sumo taxi during the search and rescue operation on Wednesday.
In a touching Facebook post in Hindi, Lokendra Singh Vedic, a resident of Shimla, said his father's body has been found but "rescuers are yet to find his head".
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur Thursday visited the mishap spot to oversee the relief and rescue work, an official spokesperson said.
He also visited the Bhawanagar CHC and enquired about the well-being of the injured.
Thakur met the kin of the dead and family members of those missing, assuring all possible help from the government.
The CM said the state government will provide Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured.
Rs 1 lakh will be given to the kin of the dead bus passengers by the Transport Department, he said, adding that free treatment will be provided to the injured.
The CM said the state government will also conduct a geological survey of the area.
Earlier, a two-minute silence was observed in the state Assembly to pay homage to those who died in the landslide.
Urban Development Minister Suresh Bhardwaj told the Assembly that CM Thakur, along with Industries and Transport Minister Bikram Singh, has gone to the spot to take stock of the rescue work.
Bhardwaj said the landslide occurred at a place where people usually stop their vehicles to look at the scenic view and take photographs.
The state government had requisitioned four helicopters for rescue work on Wednesday but they could not reach the site due to bad weather, he added.
Senior Congress leader Asha Kumari said Leader of the Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, Rampur MLA Nand Lal and Shimla Rural MLA Vikramaditya Singh have also gone to the spot.
Expressing grief, CPM MLA Rakesh Singha said the factors that cause such landslides should also be examined.
The chief minister had told the state Assembly on Wednesday that 50-60 people were feared trapped under the debris but the exact number was not known.
Eight of the dead were found trapped in a Tata Sumo taxi during the rescue operation.
The dead have been identified as Rohit Kumar (25), a resident of Kaiya village at Rampur in Shimla; Vijay Kumar (32) of Jhol village in Sujanpur of Hamirpur ; two-year-old Vanshuka of Sapni in Sangla of Kinnaur; Meera Devi, Nitisha, Prem Kumari , Gyan Dassi, Devi Chand (53), Kumari Radhika (22), Bhupender (29), all from Kinnaur; Kamlesh Kumar (34) of Rechuta village in Solan and Lakshman Thapa (19), who hails from Nepal and currently living in Theog, Shimla.
One dead person is yet to be identified, Mokhta added.
With PTI inputs