Nine more people died following heavy rain in the tribal Kinnaur district on Monday, taking the toll to 10.
With no let-up in the rain, the district remained cut off from the state for more than 48 hours. The deaths were as a result of incidents of house collapse.
Five members of a family were killed at Chaugaon village after their house was buried under the debris and boulders that fell from an adjacent hill.
A man and his daughter died at Moorang village when their hut collapsed after incessant rains. Villagers rescued a woman who was trapped in the debris.
A woman died as a result of a house collapse at Yula, 5 km from Tapri, which was marred by a flash flood following a cloudburst.
Reports received at the disaster management cell in the state secretariat here said a child died at Baltrang village, 25 km from Rekong Peo, after he was hit by a boulder.
A man had died on Sunday when the car in which he was travelling was hit by a boulder.
The widespread rain damaged around 50 houses while large tracts of fruit orchards and agricultural land have been damaged. "So far we have reports of 50 houses being damaged in the rain," said Amandeep Garg, special secretary, revenue and disaster management.
Meanwhile, the efforts to evacuate chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who is touring the district in connection with the Mandi bypoll, from Sangla village did not yield results, as the helicopter stationed at Rampur could not operate in wake of the inclement weather. "We have stationed the helicopter at Rampur, but so far the weather gods have not been kind to us," chief secretary Sudripta Roy told Hindustan Times.
The chief minister remained stranded at Sangla for the second day on Monday as all roads leading to the village have been blocked following landslides. Since Kinnaur forms part of the Mandi parliamentary segment, the chief minister was scheduled to address a series of election meetings. The government had sought permission from the election commission to allow the chief minister to be evacuated by a helicopter. The election commission had agreed to allow the use of the chopper, said a government official.
Alarmed by the grim situation in Kinnaur, the government on Monday held an emergency meeting at the state secretariat to take stock of the situation. The state government sought assistance from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Bathinda, to carry out rescue operations in Kinnaur. "The NDRF has dispatched two teams, each comprising 76 members, to carry out relief work," said Roy, who spoke to union home secretary RK Singh on Monday afternoon to apprise him of the situation.
What's more worrying for the government is that around 1,500 tourists are still stranded in Kinnaur. There was shortage of food and water at many places as the water-pumping sets could not operate following power failure.
The government said it had arranged private helicopters for the early evacuation of the tourists as the main Hindustan-Tibet Road has been blocked at several places owing to landslides triggered by rain. Electricity has been partly restored in some areas.
All 22 workers stuck at the Kashang hydroelectric project have been evacuated from the site. The rain affected the project badly as a truck, a tipper, a van and a ferry were drowned in the Sutlej. In wake of the heavy rain, schools in the area have been closed.
More rain predicted
Weatherman has predicted more rain in the district in the next 24 hours. According to the local met office in Shimla, the western disturbances triggered the heavy rain in the district. Kalpa in Kinnaur recorded 193.5mm rain. "It is likely that the western disturbance in Kinnaur will get bleak by Tuesday afternoon," said Manmohan Singh, director, Met office in Shimla.