At least four people have been killed and over 50 people were feared trapped under the debris of a massive landslide that hit Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur on Wednesday, officials said.
According to Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), four bodies have been retrieved from the debris of the landslide that occurred on Reckong Peo-Shimla Highway in Nigulsari area of Kinnaur district on Wednesday afternoon.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that operations are underway to rescue those trapped under the debris of falling boulders. Rescue operations by teams of the ITBP, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Army and local police are hindered by the falling boulders.
The State Emergency Operation Centre said that a total of 10 people have been rescued safely.
A 30-seater Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus, a truck and four cars were among the vehicles that came under the rubble as the landslide hit around 12 noon. The bus, which was moving from Murang to Haridwar, could not be traced so far and it seems that it may have fallen into the Sutlej river. Over 30 people were said to be traveling in the bus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have called upon Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and assured all possible help from the Centre in the rescue operations. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had also tweeted about the incident.
ITBP spokesperson Vivek Pandey told ANI that they got a call at 12.15 pm and rescue teams had to wait for over an hour for shooting stones to stop. There are 300 jawans of three battalions including 17th battalion, 19th battalion and 43rd battalion of ITBP at the spot. "The area is currently very dangerous," he said.
Pandey also said the body of one dead person retrieved from the spot has been identified as a as labourer, and that a bus of HRTC is still untraceable and it seems that it might have fallen in the Sutlej river down 300 feet.
"It is believed that around 40 people are trapped," the spokesperson added.
Chief Minister Thakur had earlier said that 50-60 people are feared to be trapped under the debris and the driver along with the conductor of the bus have been rescued.
"50-60 people could be trapped in the debris following a landslide on a road in Nigulsari area of Kinnaur district. Four people including driver and conductor of the bus trapped in the debris have been rescued," he said.
Kinnaur MLA Jagat Singh Negi told ANI that rescue operations are being hindered due to falling rubble.
"The landslide incident has taken place near Nigulsari. A bus is buried under the rubble there. Few cars and a truck are suspected to be trapped. The bus driver and one more person rescued. ITBP rescue teams at the spot, operation hindered due to falling boulders," he said.
Chief Minister thanked Narendra Modi and said that Prime Minister took detailed information of the incident.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to Jairam Thakur and the Director General of ITBP over the incident.
"Regarding the accident caused by landslide in Himachal's Kinnaur, I spoke to Chief Minister @jairamthakurbjp and DG ITBP. @ITBP_official teams are actively engaged in relief and rescue work. It is the priority of ITBP and local administration to save lives and provide prompt treatment to the injured," Shah tweeted.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party National President JP Nadda appealed party workers to extend all possible during ongoing rescue operations.
Former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said that he is hopeful of rescue operations by Army and NDRF will "yield results."
"Sad to hear about the #landslide on Reckong Peo-Shimla Highway in #Kinnaur District #HimachalPradesh due to which 40 people are feared buried under debris. I am hopeful that rescue operations by Army & NDRF will yield its results," he tweeted.