Himachal mudslide: Rescue operations continue, one still missing

Rescuers on Monday resumed search operations for the second day in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district where a massive mudslide swallowed a 150m stretch of road burying three homes, two buses and a bike and leaving 46 dead.

IANS| Last Updated: Aug 14, 2017, 18:57 PM IST

Shimla: Rescuers on Monday resumed search operations for the second day in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district where a massive mudslide swallowed a 150m stretch of road burying three homes, two buses and a bike and leaving 46 dead.

The authorities are suspecting one person might be trapped in the mud pile that spread over 300 m area.

"This morning we restarted search operation and during the day-long search, no body or trace of any missing person was found," Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam, who is supervising the operation, told IANS over phone.

He said a total of 46 bodies were recovered so far, all of them on Sunday. Thirty-three of them were identified and the bodies handed over to their family members on Monday.

Relatives of one missing bus passenger approached the local authorities to know about his whereabouts.

"So far we have received information about one missing bus passenger and we are on the job to locate him," a rescuer said.

He said half the body of one of the bus conductors is yet to be retrieved.

A mudslide triggered late on Saturday night by heavy rains has killed at least 46 people and injuring five.

Most of the victims belong to Himachal Pradesh. Some of them were from Pathankot in Punjab.

One bus that was caught in the mudslide was headed to Manali from Chamba, while the second bus was bound for Katra in Jammu from Manali.

The search and rescue operation, which was stopped on Sunday night owing to landslide threat, was mounted by local authorities, the Army and the National Disaster Response Force.

Tragedy struck widow Mali Devi of Kullu twice. She lost her husband in a road accident two years ago. In this disaster, she lost her three children, who were travelling in the bus bound for Manali.

In the disaster, three houses and a shop was also washed away.

Locals told the administration that they vacated their homes and ran towards the forest area minutes before the entire mountain dislocated and slid down.

"A few boulders started rolling down just ahead of the disaster. Sensing trouble, we all ran towards the forest area and managed to save ourselves," a survivor said.

She said her house was washed away in the mudslide and the livestock perished. The area has been witnessing heavy rains for the past one week.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who visited the spot along with his cabinet colleagues on Sunday, announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed.

Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal also visited the spot.

Describing the development "an unprecedented tragedy", the Chief Minister said the rescue operation would continue until the last body of the victims was recovered.