50 feared buried alive in landslide near Kotrupee

Mandi:  least 50 people are feared to have been buried alive in a massive land slide in village Kotrupee late last night near this district of Himachal Pradesh.
The incident occurred about 41 km from Mandi, the district headquarters, on the national highway? 154 at around 0030 hrs when two Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses, en route to Katra in Jammu and Chamba district, stopped for a short tea break when suddenly a huge land slide from the hill side came rolling down. While the Katra-bound bus rolled a few feet down and stuck somewhere mid way, the debris swept away the second bus over 900 meters down the gorge. The land slide took away over 250 meter-long length of the national highway in its folds.
The landslide suspected to be caused by a cloud burst on the hill-top has also swept away a car, a jeep and two two-wheelers and couple of houses along the road side.
As per the reports, eight passengers were travelling in Manali-Katra bus out of which five were killed while three other sustained injuries and were rescued during the operation.
In the second bus, around 35 to 40 passengers are feared to have been buried and trapped inside the bus . More deaths are suspected as other vehicles stranded on the road have also been washed away in the massive land slide.
The district administration swung into action and started the rescue operations with the help of police, home gaurds, PWD workers and some locals. By 0230 hrs, five bodies were retrieved and five injured pulled out from the debris. Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam was the first to reach the spot with the team of his officials, including the police and doctors.
Rescue teams from NDRF and the Army were called at the scene of the landslide from Kangra to take up the rescue and rehabilitation operation on a war-footing.
As the rescue operation intensified in the morning, more dead bodies were retrieved. At least twenty bodies were fish out from the debris till the filing of the report as more persons both dead and alive are suspected to be trapped in the mud and debris.
The injured were rushed to the Zonal Hospital Mandi from there three have been referred to IGMC Shimla while two others were discharged after the providing first aid.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who rushed to the spot from Shimla personally, inspected the rescue operations.
Talking to the media, he said he was satisfied with the swift rescue operation taken up by the administration and had directed them to further intensify it and continue with the same till the last body of the victim was retrieved from the debris. He explained that the topographical condition of the state was such that such incidents could not be averted but the government would provide whatever possible help to family members of the deceased.
The Chief Minister distributed immediate relief to next of kin of the deceased and injured. He directed the administration to assess the loss of life and property for early reimbursement of the compensation. Mr Singh also met the bereaved family members and expressed his 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 in the incident.
BJP MP Ram Swaroop Sharma, Transport Minister G S Bali, Health and Revenue Minister Kaul Singh Thakur, Panchyati Raj and Rural Development Minister Anil Sharma, Excise and Taxation Minister Prakash Chaudhary, former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal all reached the site of the accident and have expressed deep condolence on the sad and untimely demise of the victims in the landslide.
The Health Minister announced financial assistance of Rs four lakh to the next of kin of the deceased while the Transport Minister announced that Rs one lakh would be given by HRTC. (UNI)

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