At least 18 killed in Indian Himalayas as rain triggers landslides

By Reuters   August 14, 2023 | 01:26 am PT
At least 18 killed in Indian Himalayas as rain triggers landslides
An aerial view shows Dhauliganga river flowing in Chamoli district, in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India, February 12, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis
Torrential rain in India's Himalayas triggered landslides over the weekend that have killed at least 18 people, with dozens trapped or missing, officials said on Monday.

Unusually heavy rain and melting glaciers have brought deadly flash floods to the mountains of India and neighbouring Pakistan and Nepal over the past year or two with government officials increasingly blaming climate change.

Television footage from India's Himachal Pradesh state showed houses flattened by landslide, buses and cars hanging on the edge of precipices after roads gave way, and hundreds of people at rescue sites as emergency workers struggled to clear debris.

"Again, tragedy has befallen Himachal Pradesh, with continuous rainfall over the past 48 hours," the state's chief minister, Sukhvinder Singh, said in a post on the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Reports of cloudbursts and landslides have emerged from various parts of the state resulting in loss of precious lives and property."

Reports of more casualties kept coming in on Monday as the chief minister inspected some of the damage.

In one the most deadly incidents, a temple collapsed in the state capital, Shimla, with rescuers pulling out at least nine bodies, the chief minister said.

Schools and other educational institutes had been ordered to close and people in danger were being moved to safety in shelters, state officials said.

Parts of the state had received as much as 273 mm (10.75 inches) of rain in 24 hours, the India Meteorological Department said.

"This is the first time we're seeing multiple cloudburst incidents and widespread damage in the state," said state disaster management official Praveen Bhardwaj.

In the Solan district, houses collapsed after a cloudburst, killing at least seven people, and a mother and her child were killed in the Mandi district when their house collapsed, Bhardwaj said.

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