Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh claimed 16 lives, while hundreds of people were left stranded across the state after incessant rains triggered landslides and snapped road links on Monday. Officials said four members of a family were among those dead in the Himachal rains.
Many were reported missing too.
Four members of a family were buried alive in a landslide at Chakla village of Kandaghat in Solan district. In another incident, a woman and her grandchild died at Bhoranj in Hamirpur district.
A boy was missing from Rani village, Jabli, in Solan district and it is being feared that he may have got washed away in a nallah.
The National Highway 22, the main road connecting Shimla with Chandigarh, was blocked near Kachchi Ghati due to landslides. The NH-22 was blocked at Chaki Mod and Vaknaghat as well. Vehicular traffic was also affected on NH-20 (Mandi-Pathankot) and NH-21 (Chandigarh-Manali) due to landslides.
An alert has been sounded across the state, urging people to take precautions while commuting.
Due to heavy rains, the District Magistrate had ordered closure of all schools in Shimla district for a day. The district administrations in Kullu, Mandi, Solan, Una, Kinnaur and Kangra too had declared holiday in all the government and private schools due to incessant rains.
Many areas of the state capital saw piles of mud on the road, leading to blockades. Landslide in New Shimla area damaged a car parked along the road. People in Shimla had a tough time commuting as most of the areas were cut off due to flash floods and landslides.
A government advisory asked people to avoid travel as the weather department warned of heavy rains in the state till Tuesday, and on August 16 and 17.
As a precautionary measure, all schools and educational institutes in the state will remain closed on Tuesday too.
Meanwhile, BJP president Amit Shah has cancelled his August 16 visit to Himachal in view of the heavy rains.
Landslides led to the death of three persons in Mandi district, even as vehicular traffic remained disrupted for hours on the Chandigarh-Shimla, Shimla-Nahan, Chamba-Pathankot and Mandi-Pathankot highways.
Additional Chief Secretary Manisha Nanda said as many as 923 roads were closed due to landslides, including six National Highways, adding that men and machinery had been pressed into service to restore traffic movement as soon as possible.
Presiding over a review meeting in Shimla, Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry said the state had released Rs 96.5 crore for relief and rescue operations.
Owing to landslips on the tracks, all trains on the Kalka-Shimla route were cancelled.
With the water level in the Beas river rising dramatically, touching the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway 21 near the Hanogi temple, traffic on the stretch was suspended.
Landslides at several places on the Hindustan-Tibet Road suspended vehicular movement in Kinnaur district too.
According to officials, traffic in the higher reaches of Kinnaur, Shimla, Chamba, Mandi, Kullu and Sirmaur districts was the worst affected.
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) authorities released excess water from the Pandoh dam into the Beas after heavy rain abnormally increased the water level in the reservoir, said the officials.
The water level in Satluj, Beas and Yamuna rivers, which flow into the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana, has increased too.
“Continuous heavy rains have increased the water level in the Beas river and its tributaries, including the Parvati and the Tirthan,” said an official.
Highest rainfall figures (in 24 hours)
Sujanpur Tira (Hamirpur district): 307 mm
Arki (Solan): 300 mm
Paonta Sahib (Sirmaur): 239 mm
Baijnath (Kangra): 235 mm
Palampur: 212 mm
Shimla: 172 mm
Dharamsala: 142 mm
Solan town: 129 mm
Kasauli: 117 mm
Dalhousie: 72 mm