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22 dead in flash floods, landslides in Himachal Pradesh

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Shimla, Aug 20: The landslide, flash flood and cloud burst triggered by heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh have killed at least 22 people, including eight members of a family in the last 24 hours and six feared dead, State Disaster Management Department Director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta said on Saturday.

Mandi, Kangra and Chamba districts have witnessed maximum damage, the official said, adding that so far 36 weather-related incidents have been reported in the state.

19 dead, 5 missing in flash floods, landslides in Himachal Pradesh

As many as 743 roads, including the Manali-Chandigarh national highway at Mandi and the Shimla-Chandigath highway at Shoghi have been blocked for traffic, he added.

In Mandi alone, 13 persons died and five went missing in flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rainfall, Deputy Commissioner Arindam Chaudhary said.

Bodies of eight members of a family were retrieved from the debris of their house after a four-hour-long search operation by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and police at Kashan village in Gohar development block, he added. The house collapsed in a landslide.

The body of a girl was recovered at some distance away from her house after a flash flood in Baghi nullah on the Mandi-Katola-Prashar road, the DC said, adding that five members of her family are feared washed away. Several families left their homes located between Baghi and Old Katola areas after a cloud burst and took shelter at safer places, he added.

Two people were killed and two others injured as boulders hit their car in shimla's Theog, Disaster Management Director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta said. Three people were killed after their house collapsed following a landslide at Banet village in Chowari of Chamba around 4.30 am, Mokhta said. In Kangra, a "kutcha" house collapsed, killing a nine-year-old child, officials said.

Meanwhile, trains on the Jogindernagar-Pathankot route have been suspended as Chakki Bridge in Himachal Pradesh's Kangra district collapsed due to heavy rainfall on Saturday, officials said. The Railway authorities had declared the bridge unsafe and the train service on the narrow gauge track from Pathankot (Punjab) to Jogindernagar (Himachal Pradesh) has been suspended, they added.

In Hamirpur, 30 people who were stranded following a flash flood evacuated safely, they said. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and BJP president JP Nadda expressed grief over the deaths and said the administration is carrying out rescue operations on a war footing in affected districts. The HP Public Works Department (PWD) chief engineer said 743 roads, including the Manali-Chandigarh highway at Mandi and Shimla-Chandigath highway at Shoghi, closed due to unprecedented rainfall.

As many as 407 roads will be restored today and 268 will be cleared by tomorrow, he said. Police said the Chandigarh-Shimla national highway blocked for traffic after a landslide at Sonu Bangla between Shoghi and Tara Devi. Stones are still falling and traffic has been diverted via the Shoghi-Mehli bypass, they added.

Meanwhile, water and power supply have been hit in several parts of the state. At a meeting here, state Chief Secretary R D Dhiman directed the departments concerned to clear roads so that the supply of basic needs is not disrupted. He also ordered the videography of the damage caused by heavy rainfall and provide shelter to affected people. The principal secretary, revenue, told the chief secretary that Rs 232.31 crore has been released to the districts from the State Disaster Response Fund and sufficient funds are available with all districts to carry out the relief and rehabilitation work.

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