(AP) NEW DELHI — At least 72 people have died this week as a result of days of nonstop rain in India’s Himalayan region, a government official said on Thursday, as a strong monsoon sparked landslides and flash floods that inundated roads, destroyed buildings, and sent locals fleeing for safety.
Rescuers in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh have been battling treacherous weather to free individuals buried beneath mud and debris following the weekend’s heavy rains. The state has been placed on high alert by India’s weather service, which anticipates that the downpours will continue for the next few days.
The 72 fatalities occurred during the previous five days, according to Vikram Singh, an operator at the state’s emergency operations center, who said on Thursday that rescue efforts were ongoing.
The Indian Air Force and emergency response teams are assisting in the evacuation of residents from low-lying, vulnerable locations, but hundreds of roads are still blocked, and schools in Shimla, the state’s capital, have been ordered closed. Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the chief minister of the state, claimed that over 2,000 people had been saved by helic-opters and boats and were now secure in relief camps.
Social media posts featured images of trees collapsing as houses erected atop the hills fell one after the other. People can be heard screaming “get out from here” and “get back” in the background as they sob in horror.
Authorities in Shimla were concerned that people may still be buried under the wreckage after a Hindu temple collapsed on Monday amid devastating landslides. According to authorities, the temple was packed.
After a cloudburst, or sudden, extremely heavy rain, on Sunday night, homes in several neighborhoods were also carried away, flooding the roadways and leaving many trapped.
When more than 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) of rain fall within 10 square kilometers (3.8 square miles) in a single hour, the phenomenon is referred to as a cloudburst. They frequently occur in the Himalayan region, where they can result in severe flooding and landslides that could endanger thousands of people.
The chief minister, Sukhu,
claimed that the anticipated loss was approximately 100 billion rupees ($1.2 billion), and that it will take a year to reconstruct the infrastructure that has been damaged by this monsoon. He described the difficulty as being “huge, like a mountain.”
Over the course of two weeks last month, record monsoon rainfall in portions of northern India, particularly the worst-affected Himachal Pradesh, claimed the lives of over 100 people.
In the Himalayan north of India,
landslides and floods are frequent during the monsoon season from June to September. According to scientists, as global warming progresses, they are occurring more frequently.
Local experts, however, assert that unforeseen construction in this susceptible area is most likely to blame for the current catastrophe. Anand Sharma, a retired meteorologist from the Indian Meteorological Department, the nation’s weather office, claimed that inadequate planning and governance were to blame for the extensive damage.
who comes from the Himalayan region, has spent more than three decades intently observing weather trends in this area.
structures created a century ago have suffered little to no damage, he added, noting that the recent construction of all the collapsed structures is another contributing reason.
According to Sharma, “they build wherever they like, and such disasters inevitably follow when heavy rains occur.”