Heavy monsoon rains have triggered floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan region, killing at least 41 people and trapping many others.
Days of downpours have washed away vehicles, demolished buildings and destroyed bridges in the northern Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, while killing at least 33 and eight in each state, respectively.
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A cloudburst in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday night killed nine people, and 12 people died in two landslides in Shimla, the state’s capital, authorities told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency.
At least a dozen others were killed as heavy rains battered the state, sparking flash floods and more landslides.
Images from hard-hit areas in Himachal Pradesh showed bodies being pulled out of thick piles of dark earth that had crushed buildings and smashed roofs.
Thousands of people have been stranded as key roads have been damaged and power lines and communication networks disrupted. Railway lines were seen dangling in midair after the ground beneath them was washed away.
In Shimla, the landslides brought down a Hindu temple, which was crowded with devotees, raising fears that the death toll could rise as rescue work carries on.
All schools and colleges in the state have been shut, and more than 700 inundated roads have been closed.
The India Meteorological Department warned that moderate to heavy rainfall was falling on the state on Monday. It had issued a red alert over the weekend for intense downpours in neighboring Uttarakhand state, where 60 people have died in monsoon rains this season, PTI reported.
Last month, record monsoon showers killed more than 100 people over two weeks in parts of northern India, including in Himachal Pradesh, which was the worst hit.
Landslides and floods are common in India’s Himalayan north during the June-to-September monsoon season. Scientists said they are becoming more frequent as global warming contributes to the melting of glaciers there.
In February 2021, flash floods killed nearly 200 people and washed away houses in Uttarakhand.