18 dead as rain pounds Himachal; Shimla highway closed

Shimla: At least 18 people were killed in Himachal Pradesh as heavy rains continued to lash the state on Monday, snapping transport links as several highways across the state were blocked due to landslides and train services suspended.
The rains, which began on Sunday evening, led to death of eight persons, including four members of a family, in Solan district, followed by four in Mandi, two each in Hamirpur and Kangra and one each in Bilaspur and Una districts, said an official.
The Chandigarh-Shimla highway remained blocked at various places due to landslides and all trains on the Kalka-Shimla route were suspended for the day. Road traffic was also disrupted for hours on Shimla-Nahan, Chamba-Pathankot, Mandi-Pathankot and Shimla-Kinnaur highways.
Additional chief secretary Manisha Nanda said 923 roads were closed due to landslides, including six national highways.
Presiding over a review meeting in Shimla on the damage caused by rains, chief secretary Vineet Chawdhry said the state had released Rs 96.50 crore for relief and rescue operations.
The government has advised people to avoid travel as the weather officials warned of heavy rains in the state till Tuesday and thereafter on August 16 and 17. As a precautionary measure, all schools and educational institutes in the state will remain closed on Tuesday too.
Four members of a family, including two children, were buried under debris at Lamsar village near Kurgal in Kandaghat subdivision of Solan, while a 7-year-old boy was washed away in Kaushalya river near Parwanoo in the district.
In Mandi, a woman was killed after a house collapsed in Tadun village of Dharampur subdivision, while a man was killed in Kansa village of Balh subdivision when his car plunged into the Beas near the Pandoh dam.
Several shanties in a slum near Panchvaktra Temple in Mandi town were washed away due to flood in the Beas, which is flowing over the danger mark there since Sunday. Balh valley, famous for vegetable production, was also submerged due to flood in the Suketi rivulet.
In Hamirpur, a 65-year-old woman and her nine-year-old granddaughter were killed after their house in Thana village of Bhoranj subdivision collapsed in a landslide.
A man was killed while his wife and son were injured after their house collapsed at Tali village of Bilaspur district. In Una, a three-year-old girl died, while six members of a family escaped unhurt when their car rolled down a gorge near Chintpurni after a portion of the road caved in. The family was returning home after paying obeisance at the Chintpurni shrine.
According to the Met office, moderate to heavy rains have occurred in most parts of the state since Sunday.
Extremely heavy rainfall occurred at some places in Solan, Mandi, Sirmaur, Kangra and Hamirpur districts, while heavy to very heavy rainfall occurred at a few places in Shimla, Kullu, Una, Bilaspur and Chamba districts, a statement by the meteorological office said.
Sujanpur Tira town in Hamirpur recorded the highest rainfall in the state at 307 mm, while it was 300 mm in Arki town in Solan and 239 mm in Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur.
State capital Shimla recorded 172 mm rainfall within 24 hours in this month – the highest precipitation since 2011, a meteorological official said.
Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) authorities released excess water from the Pandoh dam into the Beas river as heavy rain abnormally increased the water level in the reservoir, the official said.
The water level in the state’s major rivers – the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna – which enter the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana has also increased, a government official said.

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