Seven killed in heavy rains, MeT issues red alert for six districts including Shimla

Himachal Rain Fury | Schools, Colleges Shut, Death Toll Climbs To 57
Heavy rains have battered Himachal Pradesh since August 13, triggering landslides in Shimla’s Summer Hill, Krishna Nagar (in picture) and Fagli

SHIMLA, Aug 23: Heavy overnight rains triggered landslides in Himachal Pradesh, claiming seven lives and blocking over 400 more roads besides damaging several houses, officials said on Wednesday.

The meteorological office on Wednesday issued a red alert predicting “heavy to very heavy rainfall with isolated spells of extremely heavy rains” in six of the state’s 12 districts including Shimla for the next 24 hours.

A total of 709 roads in the state are now shut following three major spells of heavy rains this Monsoon that have left a trail of death and destruction.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu appealed to the people to remain vigilant in view of the heavy rain forecast.

Five persons have died in landslides triggered by cloud bursts in two villages of Seraj area of Mandi district, Deputy Commissioner Arindam Chaudhary told PTI.

Two persons, Parma Nand (62) and his grandson Gopi (14), were killed in a landslide at Dagol village of Seraj in Mandi district while the others three were killed in a landslide in Sarachi village. Some more people are feared trapped in the debris. A  few houses and a school were also damaged in the area.

Shimla town was badly hit, with landslides and uprooted trees blocking the main cart road, the lifeline of the town as well as the Shimla-Mehli bypass at several points. Many houses have also developed cracks and people have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

A migrant identified as Jhalo and his wife Rajkumari were found dead in their makeshift house in Baldeyan area of Shimla district, Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi told PTI.

The police officer also appealed to residents to avoid unnecessary travel.

Over 80 people have died in rain-related incidents in the state this month while a total of 238 people have died while 40 are still missing since the onset of monsoon in Himachal Pradesh on June 24.

The red alert warning was issued in the afternoon for parts of Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Solan and Sirmaur districts. The Met Department also issued an orange warning of heavy to very heavy rains on August 24.

All schools and colleges have been closed for two days beginning Wednesday in Shimla, Mandi and Solan districts.

The landslides also left some houses damaged in Solan district.

Deputy Commissioner, Solan, Manmohan Sharma told PTI that some houses have been damaged in Shakal village on the outskirts of Solan city as gushing waters entered the premises.

There are also reports of damage to a few houses and vehicles in Sabathu area following a landslide.

The roads that have been affected include National Highway NH 21 (Mandi-Kullu road) and NH 154 (Mandi-Pathankot), according to the data of the State Emergency Operation Centre.

Cracks have also developed in some houses in Shimla city. As a safety measure, houses were vacated in Panthaghati and Sanjauli areas of Shimla city and landslides and uprooting of trees have been reported in some parts of the city, Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, Aditya Negi said.

Fearing danger, several people in Shimla city have left their houses and moved to other places. Videos of people running to save their lives following landslides appeared on social media.

A parked bus near the inter-state bus terminal in Shimla was buried following a landslide while several other vehicles were damaged in landslips near Navbahar, Himland and other places.

Many Shimla residents had a sleepless night as the city witnessed thunderstorms and lightning till 3 a.M.

Commuters also had a hard time as buses were not plying due to the risk of landslides and falling trees.

“I have walked for nearly six km to reach my office as buses were not plying. We were scared all night as loss of life in recent landslides have triggered fear,” said resident Jagat Ram.

Heavy rains lashed several parts of the state overnight, with Shimla receiving 201 mm of rain, Bilaspur 181 mm, Mandi and Berthin 160 mm each, Nahan and Solan 122 mm each, Sundernagar 113 mm, Palampur 91 mm.

The MeT also cautioned of moderate to high flash flood risk in Shimla, Sirmaur, Kangra, Chamba, Mandi, Hamirpur, Solan, Bilaspur and Kullu districts.

The seasonal rainfall was 757.6 mm against a normal rainfall of 558.1 mm, an excess of 36 per cent from June 24 to August 22.

Himachal saw three major spells of heavy rains this Monsoon. The first on July 9 and 10 led to large-scale destruction in Mandi and Kullu districts.  Shimla and Solan districts were hit during the second spell on August 14 and 15 and Shimla city suffered heavy damage in the third spell on Tuesday night.

Over 12,100 houses have been completely or partially damaged, according to the state emergency operation centre.

Chief Minister Sukhu on Wednesday said that Rs. 165.22 crore had been released to all the deputy commissioners and the line departments in the state for the restoration of damaged works.S.

He has claimed that the state has suffered losses of Rs 10,000 crore in the heavy rains. (PTI)