The toll from the landslide in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district rose to 14 on Thursday as four more bodies were recovered, PTI reported, citing officials.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur told the state Assembly that 16 people were still missing. So far, 13 people have been rescued and they are admitted to Bhawanagar community health centre for treatment, according to PTI.
Rescue officials found the four bodies after they located the wreckage of a bus hit by the landslide on Wednesday afternoon. The bus that was found belonged to the Himachal Road Transport Corporation and was carrying over 40 passengers. The state-run bus was on its way from Reckong Peo in Kinnaur to Shimla when the landslide took place.
The chief minister said that as boulders started falling, the driver, conductor and two other passengers of the bus got off from the vehicle. In order to save themselves, they took shelter under a rock, he said. Thakur added that they could not see what had happened to other vehicles as it was very dark there.
State Disaster Management Director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta said that a car, identified as Mahindra Bolero, that is feared to be buried under the rubble could not be traced. Mokhta added that it was possible that the car rolled down with the debris.
The chief minister made the statement after returning from the spot where the landslide took place at Nigulsari village to oversee search and rescue efforts.
Thakur also announced Rs 4 Lakh compensation each for the kin of the deceased, reported ANI. He said that those injured critically will be given Rs 50,000 and the government will bear the expenses for treatment for people who sustained minor injuries. The state transport department will provide Rs 1 lakh each to the family of the deceased.
Meanwhile, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police halted search and rescue operations on Thursday afternoon as stones tumbled on.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, the chief minister said that these were “very painful and emotional” moments for him. “On seeing the debris at Nigulsari, my heart is filled with grief as I think about the valuable lives that we were not able to save despite all possible efforts,” he wrote. “It is our commitment to provide strength to their families.”
He assured that all possible assistance will be provided to the families of those affected.
President Ram Nath Kovind said that he has spoken to Governor Rajendra Arlekar and Thakur about the landslide. “I was told that all steps are being taken to bring the affected people to safety,” he tweeted. “My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and I wish speedy recovery of the injured.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured.
On Wednesday, Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Thakur and offered help. President Ram Nath Kovind also expressed his condolences.
Heavy rain has led to landslides in parts of Himachal Pradesh in the last few weeks.