Eight washed away in Himachal; Manali cut off

Shimla, Sep 24 : Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh on Monday claimed eight lives and hundreds, including school students, were stranded in the state as incessant rainfall for the third straight day triggered landslides and snapped over 200 road links, officials said.

The Chandigarh-Manali highway beyond Mandi town and the Pathankot-Chamba highway were hit. Manali, Chamba and Dalhousie towns were cut off from rest of the state.

Three people were washed away near Manali 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 flashfloods.

A man was drowned in a swollen rivulet near Palampur town in Kangra district, while another was killed when a factory building was washed away in a rivulet in Una district.

In Chamba district, around 1,000 school students have been moved to safer places in Holi area of Chamba. They had gathered for the 23rd District Primary School Sports Tournament.

After three consecutive days of incessant rains, over 200 roads in the state’s interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.

While the picturesque tourist town Dalhousie recorded the highest rainfall at 180 mm, it was 120 mm in Manali and Kangra each and 108 mm in Palampur.

Shimla saw 23 mm of rain.

The highway that connects Manali with Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has been closed for traffic owing to heavy snow since Saturday, an official said.

There are chances of moderate to heavy rainfall in the state till Tuesday, a Met Department official told IANS.

As a precaution, the government has announced closure of all educational institutions in Chamba, Kullu, Sirmaur, Kangra, Kullu and Hamirpur districts till September 25.

Authorities said excess water was discharged from the Pandoh diversion dam, located 112 km upstream of Pong dam, as a precaution.

The 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 which feeds the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra dam.

The water levels in the Bhakra dam’s Gobind Sagar reservoir and the Pong dam reservoir stood at 1,655 feet and 1,385 feet respectively, an official told IANS.

Official data showed the maximum storage capacity for the Bhakra dam is 1,702 feet and 1,393 feet for the Pong dam reservoir.

Officials said more rains could aggravate the flood-like situation in Punjab and Haryana. All the major rivers of Himachal Pradeh — the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna — enter Punjab and Haryana.

The Cabinet was on Monday informed that 120 persons were rescued from Koksar in Lahaul-Spiti district. They included 12 Sikkim tourists.

Thirty-three were rescued from Phojal in Kullu. A majority of them were rescued by the Indian Air Force, an official statement said.
(IANS)

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