India's Himachal Pradesh death toll rises after floods and landslides

Rescuers search for more than 20 still missing after landslide swamps temple in Shimla

Rescuers remove debris as they search for people feared trapped after a landslide near Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. AP
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The death toll after torrential rain in Himachal Pradesh, India, was on Wednesday approaching 60 and could rise further as rescue operations continue.

In Shimla, a popular tourist destination, nearly two dozen people remain missing after a temple was hit by a landslide on Monday.

Excessive rain has been falling across the northern Indian state since Sunday.

Rescuers have recovered 13 bodies so far, Shimla district officer Aditya Negi told The National.

“The rescue and research work is ongoing,” he said. "We have a tentative list of 21 people still trapped. We are trying our best and working diligently to rescue everyone.

“We have teams of National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force, army, local police and home guard at the site.”

Mr Negi said five bodies were recovered from the Krishna Nagar area, where a slaughterhouse and several houses collapsed in a landslide on Tuesday.

The state's chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu posted a video on X, formerly known as Twitter, that showed houses tumbling down a hillside.

At least 10 people died on Monday when a cloudburst – extremely heavy rain over a short period of time – hit a village in Solan district, and 19 people were swept away by floodwater in Mandi.

More than 800 people were evacuated from villages in low-lying areas in Kangra district after the water level in the Pong Dam reservoir rose, Mr Sukhu said on Wednesday.

“Evacuation operation is still on,” he wrote on X.

The chief minister said the surge in rainfall over the past four days had caused extensive damage across Himachal Pradesh.

The state has been battered by torrential rain since the onset of the monsoon season on June 24, leading to the deaths of more than 100 people. It has recorded 170 cloudbursts or landslides since.

In the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand, at least three people were killed in a landslide in Pauri district.

Fifty people were rescued by helicopter on Wednesday after being stranded for nearly 24 hours near the Madmaheshwar Dham temple when a bridge was washed away in floods.

Updated: August 16, 2023, 11:07 AM