At least 16 people have died after torrential rains in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh caused flooding and landslides.
At least seven people, including four children, were killed in a cloudburst in a village in the Solan district on Sunday, according to a New Delhi Television (NDTV) report.
Another nine died after heavy rainfall triggered a landslide in Shimla city that swept away a temple in Shimla’s Summer Hill, according to the Indian Express daily.
The affected areas witnessed incessant rains for about 55 hours that wreaked havoc in several districts in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh.
Several parts of the state had received as much as 273 mm (10.75 inches) of rain in 24 hours, the India Meteorological Department said.
Rescue operations underway
Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu visited the landslide-affected area in Shimla. He urged people to stay inside their homes and to avoid areas prone to landslides.
In a video tweeted by him, he offered condolences and said that relief workers and local administration are clearing the debris and searching for survivors trapped under it.
Police officials told Press Trust of India (PTI) that some 15 to 20 people are feared to be trapped under the rubble in Shimla city.
In Solan district, six people were rescued but three have been missing, officials said, according to NDTV.
The administration has issued orders to close schools and colleges and more than 700 roads in the region.
More rain expected in Himachal Pradesh
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday issued red alerts for heavy rainfall in several districts of Himachal Pradesh and another hilly Indian state Uttarakhand.
According to the meteorological department, new Western Disturbances are to be blamed for the heavy rainfall.
As per IMD’s forecast, very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall is expected at isolated places in the district of Chamba, Kangra, Hamirpur, Mandi, Bilaspur, Solan, Shimla, Kullu, and Sirmaur.
The state experiences disaster every monsoon season. This year, it has reported a loss of 257 lives and damage to property amounting to billions of dollars.
Experts say extreme weather has become more frequent in recent years as global warming contributes to the melting of glaciers in the Himalayan state.
mfa/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)