Intense rainfall in India’s northern Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand has led to catastrophic floods and landslides, killing at least 58 people, including nine in a temple collapse in Shimla, as of Monday.
In just 24 hours since Sunday night (LT), August 13, Kangra received 275 mm (10.8 inches) of rain, Dharamshala 264 mm (10.4 inches), Sundernagar 168 mm (6.6 inches), Mandi 167 mm (6.57 inches), Berthin 149 mm (5.8 inches), Shimla 135 mm (5.3 inches), Dhaulakaun 111 mm (4.3 inches) and Nahan 107 mm (4.2 inches).
In the aftermath of the downpours, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand witnessed immense devastation, with vehicles swept away, buildings demolished, and vital bridges destroyed. Himachal Pradesh reported 50 deaths in a 24-hour timeframe. Among these casualties, a Hindu temple in the state capital, Shimla, collapsed, leading to nine fatalities.
The fatalities have pushed the state’s rain-related death toll since the start of monsoon rains to 63. There are more than 20 people still missing.
Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, communicated the gravity of the situation, emphasizing the lack of previous records for such intense rainfall and fatalities in a single day. He expressed concerns about the potential increase in the death toll, as approximately 20 individuals were still trapped under rubble. The local administrative bodies were striving to rescue those affected and clear debris.
Gruesome images emerging from Himachal Pradesh displayed rescue efforts to retrieve bodies from mounds of earth that flattened structures. The states’ infrastructures faced significant disruptions, rendering thousands stranded. Notably, railway lines were observed suspended, with their supporting terrains eroded.
Emphasizing the severity of the situation, Sukhu shared distressing visuals on social media, urging residents to stay indoors and maintain distance from swelling rivers. In light of the calamity, schools across Himachal Pradesh were temporarily closed.
Neighboring Uttarakhand also bore the monsoon’s wrath, with officials reporting 8 deaths since Friday, August 11.
Rescue operations in the state accelerated amidst fears of individuals being buried due to landslides.
Specifically, a landslide near Rishikesh, a renowned yoga retreat located on the Ganges riverbanks, engulfed a resort, leaving five people buried. Shweta Choubey, the District Police Superintendent, confirmed the rescue of a girl, while her family remained trapped.
Rishikesh recorded 419 mm (16.5 inches) of rainfall in 24 hours to 08:30 LT on August 14. This is its second 400+ mm (15.7 inches) rainfall event in just 2 weeks. Since June 1, the city has received more than 3 000 mm (118.1 inches) of rain.
1 51 killed in Himachal rains, 14 of them in Shimla landslides – The Hindu – August 14, 2023
2 Over 50 killed in Indian Himalayas as rain triggers landslides – Reuters – August 15, 2023
3 Death toll from heavy rain in north India rises to almost 60 – AFP – August 14, 2023
Featured image credit: Weatherman Shubham
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