At least 46 people have been killed and many more injured in a massive landslip at Kotrupi on the Mandi-Pathankot National Highway near Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday morning.
Two Himachal Pradesh roadways buses and some light vehicles were buried, when the disaster struck around 1 a.m. The vehicles were halting for a break at a place called Urla-Jogindernagar.
The toll could rise further as over 50 passengers were travelling in the two buses hit by the landslip, which was triggered by a cloud burst, officials said. “Forty-six bodies have been recovered, and of these 23 have been identified,” an official said.
Rescue operations were suspended late evening as there were apprehensions of more landslips, he said. The rescue work would resume on Monday. Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Army and the police rushed to the spot and heavy earth-moving machinery was deployed at the gorge where the two buses lay buried under a heap of debris.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his condolences in a tweet.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the spot. He said eight passengers were travelling in the Manali-Katra bus, of whom three lost their lives. Five were rescued and taken to the zonal hospital in Mandi.
The Chief Minister said the State government would bear the medical expenses of the injured. He also met the bereaved family members and expressed condolences.
There were around 47 passengers in the second bus which was on its way from Manali to Chamba, an official said.
Part of hill ripped off
More than 100 Army personnel of 9 Grenadier reached the site from Palampur.
According to witnesses, a 100-metre portion of a big hill was ripped off and a one-km stretch of road disappeared.
An immediate relief of ₹5 lakh has been provided to the kin of the dead. The State Revenue and Transport departments would provide compensation as per the relief manual, said Revenue Minister Kaul Singh Thakur. The highway has been closed and traffic diverted through Kamand-Kotla-Kullu.
(With PTI inputs)
*This copy has been corrected for a factual error