Nine tourists were killed, and three others were injured in multiple landslides near Batseri on the Sangla-Chitkul road in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district on Sunday.
Heavy boulders let loose due to breach on the hilltop rained down on the tempo traveller ( mini-bus) the victims were travelling in. The vehicle, which had 11 passengers, was on its way to Chitkul, a scenic village close to the China occupied Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Those killed in the landslide are Pratiksha Sunil Patil, 27, of Maharashtra; Deepa Sharma , 34 of Jaipur; Amogh Bapat, 27, and Satish Katakbar, 34, of Chattisgarh; the driver, Umarav Singh, 42 of New Delhi; Kumar Ulhar Ved Pathak, 37; Anurag Biahni , 32, Maya Devi, Richa Bihani, 25, of Rajasthan.
Shiril Oberoi of New Delhi; Naveen Bhardwaj, 37 of Mohali; and Ranjit Singh 45, of Batseri tehsil, who was standing on the road were injured.
Batseri panchayat chief Pradeep Negi Pradhan said, “Giant boulders hit the tempo traveller in which the victims were travelling, pushing the vehicle down a 400-feet gorge. Two of the passengers jumped off the vehicle.” “The hilltop is highly prone to rockslide. We have been observing shooting stones from the hilltop for the last two days. Another vehicle was damaged due to shooting stones yesterday, but luckily no one was injured,” he said.
A bridge on Baspa River was also damaged due to the landslides. A video of the incident is doing rounds on social media.
Jawans of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, locals from Sangla and Batseri villages and workers from the Jindal Steel Works hydro plant carried out the rescue operations and helped retrieve the bodies. All the victims were taken to the civil hospital in Sangla.
“All the bodies have been recovered and a case has been registered,” said Kinnaur superintendent of police Sarju Ram Rana.
Kinnaur deputy commissioner Abid Hussain said a travel agency in Delhi had arranged the trip. “We will ask the agency to share the victims’ addresses. Arrangements will be made to hand over the victims’ bodies to their families.”
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who is on a three-day tour to Mandi, condoled the deaths and spoke to the district administration to get a first-hand account of the incident.
PM announces ₹2 lakh ex-gratia
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled the deaths and said all arrangements are being made for the treatment of those injured.
“It is a very painful incident,” Modi said, announcing ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh each for the next of the kin of the deceased and ₹50,000 to the injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
President Ram Nath Kovind said he was deeply saddened by the news of the death of many people in a landslide in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur and expressed his deepest condolences to the bereaved families.