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Himachal landslide: Search operation on, 23 of 46 victims identified

The landslide that took place at around 1.15am on Sunday at Kotrupi village washed away two buses of Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), two cars, and a motorcycle as a 200-metre stretch of the Mandi-Pathankot highway gave way. Five houses were also damaged.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2017 23:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Himachal landslide,rescue Operation
Around 400 personnel, including 200 from the army, 40 from NDRF and the police, home guard and fire brigade, are involved in the search operation.(HT Photo)

Rescue workers, including personnel of the Indian Army, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and state police, resumed their search on Monday for more bodies in the debris after a landslide triggered by a cloudburst swept away several vehicles on a busy highway stretch in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, officials said.

The search operation to dig out more people feared trapped under the debris in Mandi’s Kotrupi village, which was called off on Sunday around 10pm due to poor light, began at around 8am, they added.

Around 400 personnel, including 200 from the army, 40 from NDRF and the police, home guard and fire brigade, are involved in the search operation. Besides these, local volunteers trained by the district administration to mitigate disaster are also assisting in the operation.

Mandi deputy commissioner Sandeep Kadam said at least 23 of the 46 bodies that were recovered from the site on Sunday have been identified. The rescuers also pulled out five people alive from the rubble.

“The search will continue until we scan the entire debris,” Kadam added.

However, the teams were not been able to recover any body on Monday. At least 10 more people could be trapped in the debris.

The landslide that took place at around 1.15am on Sunday at Kotrupi village washed away two buses of Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), two cars, and a motorcycle as a 200-metre stretch of the Mandi-Pathankot highway gave way. Five houses were also damaged.

Most of the victims are believed to be passengers of the two buses that were caught in the landslide. Eight passengers were on board the bus going from Manali to Katra, while the bus on its way to Manali from Chamba was carrying 50 passengers, HRTC sources said.

Among those who have not been found is school teacher Prem Kumar, who volunteer Hitesh Kumar said was on a Manali-Katra bus.

“Family of Prem Kumar has reached Mandi. We are trying to trace him out in the debris,” a district administration official said.

People residing in those houses of Kotrupi village are safe.

Amid fears of more landslide on the Mandi-Manali highway, the district administration diverted traffic via Kataula-Sarkaghat. Since heavy vehicles, including Volvo buses, can’t ply on this route, heavy vehicles have been allowed to ply on the Mandi-Manali highway.

The teams of the district administration will check the vulnerability of the route. The traffic on Mandi-Pathankot highway will remain diverted via IIT Kamand due to the Kotrupi landslide.

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 16:56 IST