Mandi: A Himachal Roadways (HRTC) bus, some other vehicles and a house are reported to have been buried when a large portion of a hillside at Kotropi, near Urla on the Mandi-Jogindernagar-Pathankot highway came sliding down in the early hours today.
Personnel from National Disaster Response Force and Army, along with district authorities have been pressed into service to carry out rescue operations.
Eyewitnesses disclosed that about 250 meters of the highway had been buried in the landslide as an entire hilled caved in.
An HRTC bus and a 4 storied house have been buried. There are reports that about 4 other vehicles also have been buried, said an eyewitness over phone. The bus was said to be going from Manali to Katra in Jammu.
About two dozen people are feared to have been buried in the landslide. Survivors of the disaster have been shifted to hospital and are undergoing emergency treatment.
Speaking to Hill Post district magistrate (DC) Sandeep Kadam said that the rescue operation was in full swing to find any survivors. He added that 4 bodies had so far been recovered.
Meanwhile the administration and HRTC had released helpline numbers for obtaining updated information about the natural disaster.
District Administration: 1905 226201, 226202, 226203
HRTC: 1905 235538 94180 01051
Photos by: Roop Lal Kaundal
Update 5 p.m.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, cabinet ministers Kaul Singh Thakur, GS Bali and Anil Sharma visited Kotpuri in Mandi district where two buses were buried under a massive landslide on Saturday night.
The chief minister directed for intensifying the rescue and relief measures on war footing. He said the rescue operation would continue until the last body of victim was recovered.
The teams of NDRF, Army, Police and Home Guards have been deployed in the operation. As per the reports eight passengers were travelling in one of the bus out of which three lost their lives while five sustained injuries and have been rescued.
As per the last reports, another bus that rolled down into the gorge was still not traceable and all out efforts were on to remove the debris to locate the buried passengers.
The Chief Minister distributed immediate relief to next of kin of the deceased and injured. He directed to assess the loss to the property at the earliest so that the sufferers could be provided compensation and other assistance.
Virbhadra Singh also met the bereaved family members and expressed his heartfelt condolences. He assured them of all possible assistance in this hour of distress. He prayed for safety of the missing passengers and speedy recovery of those injured.
Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur, Transport Minister Shri G.S. Bali and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Shri Anil Sharma were also on the spot to monitor the rescue and relief operation
The Health Minister announced financial assistance of rupees four lakh to the next of kin of the deceased while the Transport Minister announced that rupees one lakh would be given by HRTC.
A senior journalist who has spent more than a decade in the profession, working for Amar Ujala and Aapka Faisla.