15 dead, several trapped as landslide hits two buses in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh

At least 15 persons died and several more people were feared trapped under tonnes of mud and debris after a massive landslide swept away two buses, a car and a motorcycle in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh late last night, official sources said.
"We have recovered 15 bodies so far. We are searching for the others," Mandi Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam told NetIndian over the telephone from the scene of the tragedy.
Mr. Kadam said five persons had so far been rescued alive from the scene and taken to a nearby hospital, from where two had been referred to the Government hospital in state capital Shimla. One person was admitted to the Mandi government hospital while two were discharged after first aid.
He said there was no clarity yet on the number of people who were travelling in one of the two buses when the tragedy struck a little past midnight last night near Joginder Nagar in the Kotrupi area of the district. 
While three bodies were recovered from the first bus, which was carrying eight passengers, as many as twelve have been found far from the second bus which had fallen some 800 metres into a deep gorge and got completely buried under the debris.
15 dead in landslide in Mandi district
District officials, police, fire brigade and other emergency services personnel, including teams from the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), were engaged in the search and rescue efforts.
Mr. Kadam said tonnes of mud came sliding down onto a 150-metre stretch of National Highway (NH)-21 between Pathankot and Mandi, sweeping everything in its path. Traffic on the highway has been stopped as the rescue operations continued.
He said that, while rains had hampered rescue efforts in the first few hours last night, the skies had cleared during the day today and helped the search and rescue teams to clear a lot of the debris. However, the operations would have to be suspended at nightfull till daybreak tomorrow, he said.
One bus was on its way from Chamba to Manali, while the other was on its way from Manali to Katra when the mishap occurred. Both buses belonged to the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC).
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the scene of the landslide during the day today and directed the officials to intensify the search and rescue efforts. He said the operations would continue till all the passengers were accounted for.
The state government has announced financial assistance of Rs. 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the  incident, while the HRTC would give Rs. 1 lakh.


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