At least 18 schoolchildren and two teachers were feared buried alive in debris after a massive landslip demolished the Saraswati Shishu Mandir building at Sumgad village in Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand on Wednesday morning. Six students were rescued by villagers.

The landslip from the neighbouring hill was triggered by a cloudburst. Heavy rain and falling debris hampered rescue operations by police and Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, officials said.

Rs. 1 lakh ex gratia

Expressing shock over the incident, Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank' announced an ex gratia of Rs. 1 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed. Governor Margaret Alva also expressed shock and grief over the incident.

Highway reopened

PTI reports:

Meanwhile, the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway in the Vishnuprayag area was reopened for light vehicles after a two-day closure, while pilgrimage to Gangotri and Yamunotri remained suspended due to fresh landslips triggered by heavy rain.

Repairs under way

It would take a couple of days more to reopen the highway for big vehicles as police, the Border Roads Organisation and ITBP personnel were still working to repair the roads, Disaster Management and Mitigation Centre sources said.

After the reopening of road for light vehicles, the pilgrims started returning from the Badrinath area, they said.

The authorities suspended the pilgrimage to Badrinath on Monday after landslips hit the highway on Vishnuprayag and Pandukeshwar.