Manali-Leh highway blocked after boulders tumble down mountainside in Himachal
The Manali-Leh National highway 3 in the Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh was blocked on Sunday after boulders tumbled down the mountainside, according to the state disaster department.
Due to the incident, which occurred near Killing Sarai, the Shilla Nullah Bridge (Rangrik-Kibber route) in Spiti valley was damaged. The district administration has deployed a team of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for clearing the blocked road and the operation is expected to be completed by Sunday evening.
The state has been observing incessant rainfall over the past few days, which caused a massive landslide on August 11 in Kinnaur district. A 30-seater Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus, a truck, and four cars toppled down and came under rubble. The death toll due to the landslide rose to 23 on Saturday following the recovery of six more bodies from the debris, deputy commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq said.
He said that the additional bodies were discovered scattered within a 50-100 feet radius from the wreckage of the bus, which was pushed down 70 metres from the highway in the landslide near Negulsari.
“The rescue operation is being repeatedly hampered due to shooting stones in the area,” Sadiq added.
The rescue operation is being conducted by respective teams of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Disaster Response Force, the Indian Army, and the state police. The district administration has informed of putting one more fork line machine into service for facilitating more bodies feared trapped under the rubble. On Friday, a list of as many as 13 people on the HRTC bus was revealed by the administration.
Meanwhile, the flow of the Chandrabhagha tributary of Chenab River, which was blocked on Friday, has returned to normal. The blockage resulted in the formation of a lake that posed a risk to the agricultural fields and human habitations near Jasrath village in Lahaul-Spiti district.
Deputy commissioner (Lahaul-Spiti) Neeraj Kumar said that the district administration “as a precautionary measure” has asked the villages downstream to “remain alert.”
(With inputs from ANI)