The death toll from rain-related incidents in Himachal Pradesh rose to 78 on Saturday (August 19), with another body recovered from collapsed temple debris. As the region braces for further deluge, the local Meteorological Department issued an orange alert for the next two days. The deceased was identified as Eish Sharma (28), the son of P L Sharma, the chairman of the mathematics department at Himachal Pradesh University, whose body was recovered earlier this week, news agency PTI reported.
“Of the 78 deaths since Sunday night, 24 were in three major landslides in Shimla alone — 17 at the Shiv temple in Summer Hill, 5 in Fagli, and 2 in Krishnanagar,” Shimla Superintendent Sanjeev Kumar Gandhi was quoted as saying by PTI.
The Army, National and State Disaster Response Forces, Police and Home Guards are working together to recover bodies from landslip rubble. Authorities believe at least three people are still buried beneath the temple debris.
Drones are being used in the state capital to identify high-risk zones and monitor sliding sites. The arrival of the monsoon on June 24 brought disaster, with 338 people killed in rain-related incidents and road accidents, and 38 people missing. Rain was responsible for 221 of these deaths in Himachal Pradesh, PTI reported citing the state’s emergency operations centre.
The deluge has left around 11,900 houses partially or fully damaged, 560 roads closed, and 253 transformers and 107 water supply schemes disrupted. The Deputy Chief Minister, Mukesh Agnihotri, while evaluating flood-affected areas, estimated losses exceeding Rs 10,000 crore and lamented the “most devastating” calamity in 50 years, the report said.
The Meteorological Office’s orange warning cautions of heavy to very heavy rain on August 20-21, with a yellow alert for heavy rainfall on August 22-23, according to the report. The risks of flash floods are moderate to high in certain districts. The state government has petitioned the Centre to declare the situation a national disaster.
According to the report, illegal mining has been blamed for exacerbating the disaster by damaging river banks and redirecting water flow. For future prevention, the issue of phased Beas River channelization has been raised with the Centre.
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