Ten persons, including one child and five women, were killed and thirteen others injured, while about 50 persons are feared buried under the debris after a massive landslide trapped an HRTC bus, a truck and other vehicles near Neugal Sari, about 170 km from here, in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district on Wednesday.
The tragedy struck around 12.30 pm this afternoon. The incident was reported by the driver of the HRTC bus, who was seriously injured. The ill-fated 42-seater HRTC bus was on its way from Rekong Peo to Haridwar when the landslide occurred. The bus and three light vehicles were buried under the debris, while the truck was hit by a shooting boulder and plunged into the Sutlej River.
One vehicle was fully damaged and a Swift car was partially damaged while the truck, which was hit by a huge boulder, plunged into the river and the driver died on the spot.
There was no trace of the bus till the filing of the report and the machinery was deployed from both sides of the road.
The rescue operation is in full swing and a team comprising ten ambulances, four earth removers, 52 ITBP personnel, 30 police and 27 NDRF personnel are on the spot.
The rescue operation would continue all night till all the persons were recovered, said Kinnaur SP Saju Ram Rana.
However, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who could not reach the spot due to inclement weather and fog said that it was feared that the number of persons trapped in the vehicles buried under landslide could be around 60.
Earlier, the rescue operation was hampered as the shooting boulders continued to roll down, posing grave risk to rescue teams but situation improved after two-three hours and heavy machinery and men were deployed to expedite the rescue operation.
Meanwhile, two of the deceased were identified as Rohit (23) of Kaiya village in Rampur tehsil in Shimla district and Vijay Kumar (32) of Jhol village in Hamirpur district, while eight bodies are yet to be identified.
The injured included Prashant, Varun Menon, Rajender, Daulat, Charan Jeet Singh, Mahinder Pal (bus driver), Gulab Singh (bus conductor), Saveen Sharma, Chander Gyan, Arun, Anil Kumar, and Kaizang Negi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah expressed shock over the accident and assured full help to the state. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who apprised the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of the situation, said both of them assured full support to meet any exigency.
BJP national President Jagat Prakash Nadda, State BJP president Suresh kashyap, BJP state incharge Avinash Rai Khanna, sCongress in charge Sanjay Dutt too expressed grief over the incident.
Panic gripped the region as the administration was getting numerous calls about missing persons from their relatives, which indicated that the number of persons buried under debris or feared dead could be more.
A large number of people have gathered at the spot and the police have cordoned 50 metres area and barred entry of people, including pedestrians.
The Deputy Commissioner Kinnaur Abid Hussain Sadiq and SP are on the spot, supervising and coordinating the rescue operation.
Several people have been killed in landslides in the state this monsoon season.
Earlier on July 25, shooting boulders triggered by a landslide hit a tourist vehicle near Batsari, about 8 km from Sangla, on the Sangla-Chitkul road in Kinnaur district, killing nine persons, including four women and three members of a family.
On July 27, at least eight people died, two were injured and two went missing in flash floods triggered by a cloudburst over the Tozing Nullah in Udaipur of Lahaul-Spiti district.