Heavy rains leading to landslides and floods have wreaked havoc in India’s northern hilly state of Himachal Pradesh, while the death toll over the past two days reached 61.
In the past two days, 12 dead bodies have been recovered in the ongoing search and rescue operations after a massive landslide ravaged the Summer Hill area of Shimla, while nine people were still missing. The heavy rain also caused a dam in Kangra district to overflow, raising concerns of flood in low-lying areas.
More than 800 people have been rehabilitated from low-lying areas to safer places, and nearly 80 people were rescued after they got stuck in flooding waters in difficult terrains.
Boats and helicopters belonging to the Indian Air Force have been pressed into service to rescue those affected in difficult terrains. Among the most affected areas is the state’s capital city of Shimla, besides Mandi, Kullu and Kangra districts.
So far, around 300 roads and highways have been adversely affected, the over-100-year-old Shimla-Kalka railway track uprooted at a few places, bridges have been snapped, more than 500 power-supplying transformers have been rendered useless, and many drinking-water projects have also been adversely affected, thus throwing the normal life out of gear in the state.
State government officials confirmed that as many as 720 houses and 241 shops were completely damaged, and nearly 7,161 houses were partially damaged due to incessant rains.
The state had suffered an estimated loss worth 100 billion Indian rupees (around 1.2 billion U.S. dollars) and the redevelopment works in the affected areas would take at least a year, according to Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
Issuing a yellow alert, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecasted incessant rains in the state and the neighboring state Uttarakhand over the next four days.
As a precautionary step, all schools and colleges in the state have been shut, and the Himachal Pradesh University suspended teaching activities till Aug. 19 in view of the torrential rains, said media reports.
Official sources said that the state government had written to the federal government to declare it as a national tragedy and announce an adequate compensation package for redevelopment and reconstruction.