CHANDIGARH: THE death toll in the Himachal Pradesh landslide tragedy has risen to 46 after a landslide swept away two buses parked on National Highway 154 in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday night. A biker is also said to have died in the calamity.
Sources said the two Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses had stopped for a tea break at Kotrupi near Padder in Mandi district around midnight when the landslide struck.
Most passengers were from Pathankot and Chamba. One bus was en route to Manali from Chamba with 47 passengers on board while the other bus was headed to Katra from Manali with eight passengers. 42 bodies were recovered from both buses of which 23 have been identified.
24 bodies were recovered by the search and rescue teams comprising the Army and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
Five people were admitted to the Manali zonal hospital. The Manali-bound bus, which was buried under mud after rolling 800 metres off the road was later successfully retrieved.
Mandi deputy commissioner Sandeep Kadam said, “Twenty four bodies were recovered and five rescued after a long operation. Rescue teams were digging throughout the day to find survivors trapped in the rubble.’’
As per records, 21 passengers travelling to Manali got their tickets booked online. It is learnt that there were some 35 to 50 passengers on the bus at the time of the incident.
Those killed have been identified as Chandan Sharma (driver), Satpal (conductor), Rajesh from Dharamsala, Manju from Karsog, Sachvetra from Ampur, Anita from Mandi, Beauty Sharma from Patna and Shubam from Pathankot.
Revenue minister Kaul Singh announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of the deceased.
The Jogindernagar-Mandi section of the Pathankot- Mandi National highway has been closed. The district administration has advised people to take the Mandi-Kullu route via Kalota. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences. “Pained by the loss of lives due to landslide related accidents in HP’s Mandi district, my condolences with the families of the deceased.’’