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19 people killed as heavy rains wreak havoc in Himachal

Heavy rains, floods has reduced tourist arrivals to a record low in July 2023.

Shimla: Landslides and flash floods triggered by three days of torrential rains and cloudbursts have claimed as many as 19 lives, damaged property and washed away roads, bridges and water supply infrastructure in Himachal Pradesh.

The losses, as per preliminary assessments, have already crossed Rs 162 crore mark.

The meteorological department has sounded an orange alert for heavy to very heavy rains in the state during the next three days.

Hundreds of tourists bound to Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur have remained stranded for hours because of massive landslides, sinking of roads and washing away of bridges and highways.

Monsoon rains have hit the hill state quite early after a continuous spell of inclement weather, thunderstorms and hail increasing miseries for the farmers, traders and travellers.

“Yellow alert has been issued for 28, 29 and 30 June. On the other hand, amidst the orange alert on Monday, it rained in the capital Shimla and other parts. Over 300 roads have come to a standstill due to heavy rains in the state. 140 transformers of electricity are closed” said an official of the state Disaster Management Authority.

Four persons died near Rampur when a car skidded off the road and rolled down into a deep gorge. Tourists have been advised to drive carefully as hill roads get prone to accidents during the rains and also because of clouds and fog.

The Traffic Tourist and Railway (TTR) Police on Tuesday advised the people to avoid unnecessary travel and plan their journey only after ascertaining the weather conditions.

Apart from this, an appeal has been made not to go to the camp sites adjacent to rivers and landslide prone areas. Police have issued an advisory saying that there is a need to avoid all kinds of water sports activities including rafting in such weather.

In case of any crisis, emergency numbers 112 and 1077 and local police station numbers can be contacted, said a release of TTR police.

A massive landslide at Pandoh on Chandigarh-Manali National Highway left tourists stuck in a jam for more than 10 hours till an alternative route was cleared of the road blockade caused by the landslides and sinking of the road.

Water level rising in the rivers and small rivulets after release of water from the dams also led to flash floods in some of the areas.

AIG TTR Sandeep Dhawal said that there is a possibility of floods, landslides and cloud bursts in the hilly areas during the rainy season in the state. Due to this guidelines have been issued. The HRTC drivers and vehicle owners have been asked to be careful while traveling.

Due to filling of silt in 1,044 schemes of water and irrigation, there has been an outcry for drinking water. Drinking water was not available in some areas of the capital Shimla even on the fourth day on Monday. People were seen arranging water by tankers.

Thousands of tourists were trapped on the Kullu-Manali NH due to the flood caused by a cloudburst in Mandi’s Baghi Nala on Sunday night. They had to spend Sunday night in vehicles with children. After 21 and a half hours, till 4:30 pm on Monday, only one way movement could be restored here, said reports.

The Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane highway was also affected early this week. About 100 vehicles carrying plums for Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir are stuck here. Milk, newspapers and other essential items could not be supplied in Kullu on Monday morning due to the closure of the National Highway between Kullu-Mandi. Eight up and down trains between Kalka-Shimla were also cancelled on Monday.

Deputy Commissioner Mandi Arindham Chaudhary said “Major landslides occurred between Mandi and Pandoh, blocking the highway completely. But now the road have been made operational.

Because the alternative route via Kataula was also blocked two day back, the traffic had come to a standstill between Mandi and Kullu. Nearly 5,000 vehicles were stuck between Mandi and Kullu. It was a nightmare to spend the night in the vehicles with kids. Later the administrations arranged accommodation for stranded tourists at gurdwaras and a few other places. We had to forgo our booking at Manali” said Naresh Garg, a tourist from Punjab travelling to Kullu-Manali.

Karandeep from Chandigarh and Ravi Sharma from Delhi along with Srikant of Bengaluru also were seen struggling in the traffic jam because of the road blockade.

The most affected were families which were travelling along with their children to enjoy vacation in Kullu and Manali.

Data released by the State Emergency Operations Centre for the June 24-26 period said three persons drowned, three others were killed in road accidents caused by rains, two fell to their death from a steep rock, while one person was killed in a landslide. Officials said one person is missing.