Shimla: A massive landslide buried two Himachal Pradesh roadways buses, killing at least 46 people and injuring several others at Kotpuri near Padhar on the Mandi-Pathankot national highway on Sunday, officials said.
Huge chunk of debris sliding down the hill washed away the two HRTC buses, some other vehicles and few houses besides a 250-meter stretch of Pathankot-Mandi national highway. Five people who were injured in the incident were shifted to a local hospital.
Officials fear that the toll could rise further as over 50 passengers were travelling in the two buses hit by the landslide, which was triggered by a cloud burst.
“Forty-six bodies have been recovered, and of these 23 have been identified,” an official said.
While three bodies were recovered from Katra-bound bus, 42 bodies were recovered from the Manali-bound bus. One body was of a biker identified as Sunny Kumar of Jogindernagar in Mandi district. So far, 23 bodies have been identified.
The state government said that the Katra-bound bus had a total of 8 passengers, of which 3 were killed and five rescued. The Manali-bound bus was packed to capacity.
Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh visited the spot. He said that eight passengers were travelling in the Manali-Katra Volovo bus, of whom three lost their lives, while five were rescued and taken to the zonal hospital in Mandi.
The chief minister said the state government would bear medical expenses of the injured. He also met the bereaved family members and expressed condolences.
Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur, Transport Minister G S Bali and Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Anil Sharma also reached the spot.
Thakur announced financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased, while Bali announced that Rs 1 lakh would be given to each bereaved family by the HRTC.
The massive landslide, covering an area of more than 250 metres, may have swept away some other vehicles also and damaged some houses, an official said.
The highway was closed and hundreds of vehicles were stranded on both sides, officials said.