CHANDIGARH: Up to seven persons were killed and 11 others sustained injuries on Tuesday when the historic Gurdwara Manikaran Sahib in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh was hit by a major landslide. And it is feared that many more could be buried under the debris.
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said,”Seven persons were killed and eleven were injured in the landslide. Part of the residential wing of the shrine has been badly damaged.”
The tragedy occurred when the landslide from Gadagi village, located at a higher altitude, came crashing down on the gurdwara, situated between the Beas and the Parvati. The landslide hit the gurdwara’s langar hall(community kitchen) and serai (accommodation)wing. “There was heavy rush of pilgrims at the gurdwara and its neighbouring areas when the landslide occurred,” said Thakur Chand, Sarpanch of the village.
Personnel from Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the police and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), besides local residents and devotees present in the gurdwara were involved in the relief and rescue operation.
SSB officer Sandeep Yadav said,” A huge boulder hit the building, badly damaging three to four rooms located on four floors. And majority of the debris fell into the nearby Parvati. The entire area has been vacated as there are chances of more landslides.”
“There was a stampede-like situation in the aftermath of the calamity. However, there are hardly any details on the number of people present in the residential complex at the time of the incident. Currently, efforts are under way to extricate anyone buried under the debris,” he added. The sanctum sanctorum of the shrine and the neighbouring Hindu temple, though, are safe.
Following the heavy rains in the Parvati’s catchment area, the river has been in spate over the last couple of days. The area is also known for its hot springs with high sulphur concentration.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed grief over the incident.