Two people have died and at least 25 others remain trapped after a landslide in the mountainous northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
A dozen people were also injured in Wednesday’s incident which saw rubble and large rocks come crashing down on to a highway, hitting several vehicles, officials said.
A state transport bus carrying dozens of passengers and four vehicles were trapped under the debris.
Rescuers search for survivors trapped under the debris. Pic: AP
Video footage and photographs on social media showed the mangled remains of a truck, while some cars were buried under stone and mud.
Ten people have been rescued so far from the bus, truck and a car.
Chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jai Ram Thakur, said: “I have directed the police, local administration to conduct rescue operations. They have already reached the site and rescue operations are on.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Mr Thakur and assured him of all possible support in the ongoing rescue operation.
About 200 troops have been deployed to the scene to aid rescuers.
Two people have been killed in the incident. Pic: AP
“The area is currently very dangerous,” Vivek Pandey, a spokesman for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), an Indian paramilitary unit responsible for border security in the region, told news agency ANI.
The landslide happened at around 12.45pm local time, the ITBP wrote on Twitter.
It posted photos showing rocks and mud surrounding the wreckage of several vehicles, including a bus and truck.
A landslide reported on Reckong Peo- Shimla Highway in #Kinnaur District in Himachal Pradesh today at around 12.45 Hrs. One truck, a HRTC Bus and few vehicles reported came under the rubble. Many people reported trapped. ITBP teams rushed for rescue. More details awaited. pic.twitter.com/ThLYsL2cZK
— ITBP (@ITBP_official) August 11, 2021
Last month, nine tourists were killed when the minibus they were travelling in was hit by a landslide in the same district.
Heavy rains have been the cause of several landslides in the state.
This monsoon season, Himachal Pradesh has seen an increase of 116% in landslide incidents.
This year, 35 major landslides have been reported so far – an indicator of the fragile ecology of the Himalayan region.
More than 100 people were killed in July in western India’s Maharashtra state after torrential downpours caused severe floods and landslides – burying homes and submerging streets.
Experts say the heavy rainfall along India’s western coast is in line with how rainfall patterns have changed over the years due to climate change. The warming Arabian Sea is driving more cyclones and intense rainfall over short periods of time.
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In February, a glacial breach caused a large snow, ice and rock avalanche in the Himalayan area of Chamoli in Uttarakhand, northern India. Dozens of people were killed and many are still missing.
Scientists claim that climate change may have triggered the higher temperatures in the upper parts of the Himalayan range that could have been the cause of the glacial breach.