Flash floods in Himachal: Extreme heavy rain expected in next 48 hrs, six dead

Flash floods in Himachal: Extreme heavy rain expected in next 48 hrs, six dead
  • About 200 persons were stranded in Chandratal in Lahaul and Spiti.
  • As many as 765 roads including five National Highways have been closed to traffic.
  • All the trains between Shimla and Kalka track have been cancelled.

'Heavy to extremely heavy' rains battered Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, triggering landslides and flash floods, inundating many areas, washing away roads, vehicles and houses and killing six persons. State authorities have ordered the closure of schools and colleges for two days. As many as 765 roads including Chandigar- Manali National Highway were closed following the torrential rains. Hundreds of people were stranded in different parts of the state, including in Chandratal in Lahaul and Spiti and near Sadhupul in Solan district.

The local met office had issued a fresh red alert of extremely heavy rains (above 204 mm) in ten out of 12 districts, barring tribal districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti, on July 9.

Twenty major landslides and 17 flash floods have been reported in the past 48 hours over 30 houses have been completely and partially damaged. All major rivers including Ravi, Beas, Satluj, Swan and Chenab are in spate, officials said.

While six people died in rain-related incidents on Sunday, the death toll has risen to 54 since the onset of the monsoon on June 24, according to the state emergency operation centre.

Solan received 135 mm of rain on Sunday, breaking a 50-year-old record of 105 mm of rain in a day in 1971, while Una received the highest rainfall after 1993, Director Local MeT office Shimla, Surender Paul told PTI.

Frightening pictures of the chaos unleashed by the rains - vehicles floating like paper boats on inundated roads, muddy waters gushing into residential areas, temples and other structures submerged on the banks by the swollen rivers and land cave-ins - were shared online by people.

A fresh spell of snow was reported in high-altitude areas of the state.

Reports of water entering houses in Una, shops being swept away in Manali, vehicles being washed away in flash floods at Nullah in Kullu, Kinnaur and Chamba districts and loss to agricultural land have also poured in.

Three members of a family were killed in a house collapse following a landslide due to rains in Kotgarh area in Kumarsain subdivision of Shimla district. The deceased were identified as Anil, his wife Kiran and son Swapnil, officials said.

A landslide also damaged a makeshift house near Kullu town, leaving a woman dead. In another incident, a person was buried alive following a landslide in Katiyan tehsil of Chamba on Saturday night.

A girl was buried alive as a huge amount of debris swept by rainwater fell on her house in Rajhana village on the outskirts of Shimla city. Another elderly woman was reportedly trapped under the debris and rescue operations were on, officials said.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu appealed to the people to avoid venturing out in heavy rains, especially near rivers and nallahs, and remain vigilant.

As many as 280 persons were stranded in different parts of the state. About 200 persons were stranded in Chandratal in Lahaul and Spiti.

Superintendent of Police Mayank Chaudhary, who is on the spot, said that all the people are safe and food and essential medicines have been arranged.

They would be rescued soon as the road is restored, he said.

Commuters in about 60 vehicles were struck near Sadhupul in Solan district due to a landslide.

The next few days...

The Himachal Pradesh Government has closed all the government and private schools and colleges affiliated with the state for two days (July 10 and 11).

In an office order issued here, Director of the Higher Education Department Amarjeet Sharma said that the schools affiliated with ICSE, CBSE and other boards can take decisions regarding closing schools at their own level.

As many as 765 roads including five National Highways have been closed to traffic while 1,743 transformers and 138 water supply schemes were affected.

The national highways blocked included NH-21 Mandi to Kullu, NH-505 Gramphu to Locar, NH-03 Kullu to Manali, NH-305 Aut to Jalori and NH-707 Rohru to Poanta Sahib near Shillai in Sirmaur district.

National Highway 21 is blocked at 6 Mile. This is the same place where the commuters were struck for almost 24 hours on June 27 last due to a landslide.

Mandi-Kullu road via Kamand was also blocked near Ghoda farm. The Manali-Chandigarh also caved in near Manali.

Deputy Commissioner of Kullu Ashutosh Garg said the Kullu-Manali road is blocked at several places due to landslides. Beas River is in spate near Ramshela and traffic has been halted from Kullu to Manali and Manali to Atal Tunnel.

"It's raining since last night and all roads are closed", said Rohit, a Kangra resident stuck in Kullu.

"The roads have caved in trees and poles are falling. The site is quite frightening," he said.

The Mandi police have asked the tourists stranded in Balh and Sundernagar to find accommodations as all roads leading to Kullu from Mandi are blocked and are expected to open Monday afternoon.

All the rivers and nullas in Mandi district are in spate as the water level in Beas has increased.

The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) authorities have opened all five gates at Pandoh Dam and a flood-like situation is prevailing.

Low-lying areas are being evacuated and the Chakki Bridge at NH-154 (Pathankot-Mandi) has been closed for vehicular movement, said DC Kangra Nipun Jindal.

The relief, rescue and restoration operations were severely hit as heavy rains continued throughout the day. However, the district administration, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams rescued five persons trapped in the middle of Beas River in Charu in Kullu district.

Thirty college students stranded between Gramphu and Chota Dharra on Sundo-kaza-Gramphu (National Highway 505) following a roadblock due to landslide and flash floods at several places were rescued by the Lahaul and Spiti authorities on Saturday night.

All the trains between UNESCO heritage Shimla and Kalka track have been cancelled as landslides and fallen trees blocked the railway track at many places.

Water also entered the powerhouse of Largi dam in Kullu and Chaba Power House.

Shimla water supply to Shimla and Solan would be affected due to high turbidity in the water sources, officials said.

Nangal Dam at Bilaspur received 282.5mm rain followed by Una 275 mm, Nahan 222 mm, Dalhousie 212, Chamba 203 mm, Dhaulakuan 205 mm, Dharamsala 181 mm, Dehra Gopipur 175.4 mm, Kangra 168 mm, Narkanda 143 mm, Mandi 139 mm, Shimla 134 mm, Manali and Bilaspur 131 mm each, Sundernagar 127 mm and Mashobra and 121 mm.

Officials said the Jal Shakti Vibhag and PWD have suffered a loss of Rs 500 crores.