Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh on Monday claimed eight lives and hundreds, including school students, remained stranded across the state after incessant rainfall for the third consecutive day, triggering landslides and snapping over 200 road links, officials said.
Three people have washed away near Manali late on Sunday night when their vehicle fell into the swollen Beas river.
Elsewhere, two people were washed away in the Parbati river in the Manikaran valley, while one girl died near Bajaura. Both incidents occurred in Kullu, one of the worst affected districts by flash floods.
A man was drowned in a swollen rivulet near Palampur town in Kangra district, while another was killed when a building was washed away in a rivulet in Una district.
Several houses in Kullu town were swept away in flash floods as the Beas is flowing above the danger mark.
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS that a “high alert” has been issued in the district as most of the rivers and their tributaries were in spate.
In Chamba district, the Ravi river was flowing at the danger mark and people were evacuated from low-lying areas.
Around 1,000 school students have been moved to safer places in Holi area of Chamba. They had gathered there for the 23rd District Primary School Sports Tournament, a government spokesperson told IANS.
Likewise, over 800 people, comprising tourists and locals, have been rescued from various places in and around Lahaul Valley in Lahaul-Spiti district. The area witnessed snowfall too.
“No tourist or local is stranded on the road. All people have been moved to safer places in Koksar, Marhi and Keylong last (Sunday) evening,” he said, adding that telephone lines in the area have been badly affected.
Reports said five faculty members of the IIT-Mandi went missing in the Chandratal (4,300 metre high) in Lahaul-Spiti. They had gone there for trekking.
On government’s request, the Indian Air Force has stationed a chopper in Kullu town, some 200 km from the state capital, to deal with any emergency.
Heavy landslides hit vehicular movement on the Chandigarh-Manali highway beyond Mandi town and on the Pathankot-Chamba highway.
After three consecutive days of incessant rains, over 200 roads in the state interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.
Road links to Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal have been cut-off owing to landslips, a government official told IANS.
Three bridges were washed away in Kullu and Manali towns.
While picturesque tourist town Dalhousie recorded the highest rainfall in the state at 180 mm, it was 120 mm in Manali and Kangra each and 108 mm in Palampur.
State capital Shimla saw 23 mm of rain.
The higher reaches of Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts experienced snowfalls. Keylong town in Lahaul-Spiti district saw over two feet of snow.
The highway that connects Manali with Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has been closed for traffic owing to heavy snow since Saturday, the official said.
There are chances of moderate to heavy rainfall in the state till Tuesday, a Met Department official told IANS.
He said most of the areas in the state, particularly Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Sirmaur and Mandi districts, have been experiencing moderate to heavy rainfall.
The government has announced closure of all educational institutions in Chamba, Kullu, Sirmaur, Kangra, Kullu and Hamirpur districts till September 25.
An Indian Air Force chopper rescued on Sunday 19 people stuck in a flashflood in Dobi in Kullu district.
Authorities said excess water was discharged from the Pandoh diversion dam, located 112 km upstream of Pong dam, as a precautionary measure.
The Pandoh diversion dam is located on the Beas river in Mandi district. It diverts excess monsoon water towards the Pong dam. Otherwise, it diverts water towards the Satluj river which feeds the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra dam.
Authorities of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) said excess water from the Pong Dam could be released due to high inflow in the reservoir.
Officials said more showers in the state could aggravate the flood-like situation in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.
All the major rivers of the hill state — the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna — enter Punjab and Haryana.