At least 30 people were killed and five intelligence officials were missing as torrential rains triggered flashfloods and landslides in Uttarahand and Arunachal Pradesh, officials said on Friday, underlining the vulnerability of hill states to weather extremes.
While “18 to 20” people were killed in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli and Pithoragarh since Thursday, 10 people were buried alive when a landslide hit West Kameng district of the northeastern state on Friday.
In Uttarakhand, pounded by torrential rains since Thursday night, the toll is likely to increase, chief minister Harish Rawat said.
The death and destruction in Chamoli and Pithoragarh came just over three years after more than 5,000 people were killed when the Kedar valley was hit by a similar cloudburst, a term used to describe highly concentrated rainfall over a small area and lasting for a few minutes to few hours.
In Dehradun, officials put the number of confirmed deaths at 11 based on the number of bodies recovered.
While the state BJP claimed that the number of dead could be 30, officials in Haldwani told Hindustan Times that the toll in worst-hit Bastadi village in Pithoragarh district alone could rise to 15 as many people are still trapped under debris – mud, toppled houses and uprooted trees.
At least six deaths have been confirmed in Pithoragarh while five casualties were reported in Chamoli, said Ravi Shankar, the additional secretary in the disaster management department.
Officially, the number of missing was 17 but authorities didn’t rule out the possibility of the number increasing as incessant rainfall delayed rescue work in the worst affected villages.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet: “My prayers are with those injured. I hope normalcy returns to the rain-affected areas at the earliest.”
Rawat announced `2 lakh as ex-gratia to the next kin of each dead.
Rescue workers used helicopters to shift the injured to hospitals but were hampered due to poor visibility, officials said.
A team of the Natural Disaster Response Force (NDRF) could not reach the disaster sites – around 180 kms apart – as choppers could not land due to bad weather.
“We have recorded 12 cm rain in the 24 hours in Kapkot (Pithoragarh),” said Vikram Singh, the state metrological department head. The met office also issued warning for heavy rains in some parts of the state in the next 48 hours.
Landslide in Arunachal Pradesh
Landslide triggered by torrential rain killed 10 people , including two women, and injured four others at Bhalukpong in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday.
A PTI report said five officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) are missing following the landslide in Bhalukpong, 220 km west of state capital Itanagar.
Manipur cut off
Incessant rains in Manipur cllaimed two lives, inundated many areas in several districts and led to landslides which have blocked both highways connecting the mountainous state to the world, cutting of supplies of food and medicine, officials said on Friday.
More rainfall is forecast over the next two days.
A tribal, identified as Manchudai Gangmei, 45, drowned in the swollen Izei river in Tamenglong district on Thursday. His body was recovered on Friday. On Friday the second victim, a five-year-old tribal girl in Churachandpur district was swept away by the overflowing water of a river.
Many low lying areas in Churachandpur district were flooded and reports of flooding of low-lying residential and agricultural lands in other districts were also received.
The 222-km-long National Highway (NH) 37 has been cut due to floods or landslides, disrupting the transport of food, medicines and other essential commodities from Imphal and Silchar in Assam to the Tamenglong district.
(With inputs from HTC, New Delhi and agencies)