At least 41 killed in Indian Himalayas as rain triggers landslides


Torrential rain in India’s Himalayas triggered landslides over the weekend that have killed at least 41 people, with over a dozen trapped or missing, officials said on Monday.

Unusually heavy rain and melting glaciers have brought deadly flash floods to the mountains of India and neighbouring Pakistan and Nepal over the past year or two, with government officials increasingly blaming climate change.

Television footage from India’s Himachal Pradesh state showed houses flattened by landslides, buses and cars hanging on the edge of precipices after roads gave way, and hundreds of people at rescue sites as emergency workers struggled to clear debris. “Again, tragedy has befallen Himachal Pradesh, with continuous rainfall over the past 48 hours,” the state’s chief minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, said in a post on the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Reports of cloudbursts and landslides have emerged from various parts of the state resulting in loss of precious lives and property.”

At least 41 people have died in rain-related incidents since Sunday and 13 were still missing, according to a report by the state disaster management department, seen by Reuters. In one the most deadly incidents, a temple collapsed in the state capital, Shimla, with rescuers pulling out at least nine bodies, the chief minister said.

Television footage showed swollen rivers breaking their banks in Himachal and neighbouring Uttarakhand state, where record rains have also damaged roads and infrastructure.

The India Meteorological Department issued a “red alert” for both Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand on Monday and has forecast rainfall intensity to reduce Tuesday onwards.

Parts of Himachal and Uttarakhand received as much as 273 mm (10.75 inches) and 419 mm (16.54 inches) of rain in 24 hours till 8:30 am IST (3 am GMT) on Monday, the weather office said.

Schools and other educational institutes have been ordered to close in Himachal Pradesh and people in danger were being moved to safety in shelters, state officials said.

Uttarakhand state authorities announced the Char Dham pilgrimage route would be closed till Tuesday after landslides.

“This is the first time we’re seeing multiple cloudburst incidents and widespread damage in Himachal Pradesh,” said state disaster management official Praveen Bhardwaj. In Solan district, houses collapsed, killing at least seven people, and a mother and her child were killed in Mandi district when their house collapsed, Bhardwaj said.__Daily Times