Saturday, August 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

60 washed away in Kulu flash floods
M.C. Thakur

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Ms Vidya Stokes visit the injured at Mission Hospital and Community Health Centre, Manali
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Ms Vidya Stokes visit the injured at Mission Hospital and Community Health Centre, Manali, on Friday. Photo M.C. Thakur

Kangni (Manali), August 8
About 60 labourers were washed away in a cloudburst that struck the makeshift camps of labourers working in the construction of a road up to Rohtang Tunnel at Kangni Nallah, 15 km from Manali, around 11.25 last night.

So far 26 bodies have been recovered from the site and 34 persons are missing, feared washed away.

Eighteen injured labourers were admitted to Lady Willingdon Hospital, Manali, and Community Health Centre, Manali, for treatment. According to the Chief Medical Officer, Kulu, Dr G.D. Mehta, most of the injured were out of danger. One patient has been shifted to Zonal Hospital, Kulu.

Meanwhile relief and rescue operations were geared up by personnel of the ITBP and Border Roads Organisation under the supervision of Major Rakesh Godhoke, 2 IC, 38 BRT.

Major Rakesh Ghadoke told mediapersons that 250 labourers, mostly from Nepal and Jharkhand state, had been camping at the site for the construction of the approach road leading to the proposed Tunnel being constructed beneath Rohtang Pass. Major Rakesh claimed that the tents of the victims were located at a sufficient distance from the Kangni Nallah. But the makeshift camps were washed away because the Kangni Nallah suddenly changed course.

Asked if he had any information about a letter sent by the administration to shift the labour tents from Kangni Nallah to some other spot, he said since the BRO had been constructing roads on difficult mountainous terrains it was already concerned about the safety of the workers. He said with the efforts of the BRO men four labourers were pulled out alive from the debris and more were likely to be extricated.

According to Dr M.P. Singh from the BRO, a medical post had been set up at the site to provide first-aid to the injured before shifting them to Manali hospitals. He said as soon as information about the tragedy was received the medical teams were rushed to the spot.

Three machines, including two bulldozers and one excavator, have been pressed into service to remove the debris on the road as well as to extricate the bodies. Besides, one truck, one water tanker and one bulldozer have also been trapped in the debris. The Assistant Commandent, ITBP, Babeli, Mr Anupreet Borker, told the Tribune that 36 Jawans from the Disaster Management Nodal Centre of ITBP at Babeli (Kulu), including two Inspectors, were engaged in relief and rescue operations.

According to Meen Bahadur, labour Incharge at the Kangtni Nallah, there were 39 labourers under his charge out of whom four children and three elders lost their lives while 36 were safe. Besides, Manoj from Jharkhand, the other labour incharge, had 31 labourers under his charge out of whom 12 were injured and Rs 60,000 which he had received yesterday had been washed away in the floods. Similarly Abhimnayu, another labour incharge from Jharkhand, said under his charge there were 26 labourers out of whom 18 were missing and eight were dead. Arjun had 27 labourers under his charge out of whom three were missing and 24 were alive.

Mahavir Rai from Jharkhand said there were 28 persons in the tent out of whom three were dead. Rai, who is admitted in Community Health Centre, Manali, said that while he along with his companions was asleep, he heard a loud thud. They rushed out of the tent to save their lives.

According to a Nepalese girl Gauri, about 200 labourers who have been camping at Fingni Nallah also panicked after the cloudburst at Kangni Nallah. They do not want to stay there any more.

Mr H.R. Chauhan, ADM, Kulu, said a relief of Rs 50,000 would be provided to the next of kin of those who lost the main bread-earner while Rs 25,000 would be given to those who were dependents. The labourers have been shifted to Government School, Manali, where food and blankets have been provided by the administration.

List of injured: Retis Narayan (32), Naresh Thakur (25), Abhimanyu Mandal (42), Basu Dev Singh (18), Kasam Khan (29), Baranchi Pujari (32), Surva Padiya (20), Budha (8),

Kunjal Mandal (25), Ajit Kumar (19), Sukh Dev Yadav (25), Mahavir Rai (30), Manohar Yadav (23), Siraj (2), Abdul Badud (33), Kumar (26), Ayati Maya (21), Domadrai (30). Admitted in Hospitals.

List of the dead identified: Sunderlal (38), Anand Thakur (40), Raju (13), Ajay Babdi (20), Sushil Saran (21), Gudam (27), Fome Mandal Sayali (3), Ayata Mala (37), Sarki Lama (13), Some Saran (28), Shiv Kumar (20), Mahender Saran (20), Suresh Yadav (29), Ramdev Yadav (29). Eleven bodies have not been identified.


Miraculous escape for 15
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Kotkhai (Shimla), August 8
Fifteen persons, including five employees of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation, had a miraculous escape even as the flash floods in the Pandli Nallah caused by a cloudburst washed away the local bus stand along with three buses, a truck and a utility van here last night.

In all 11 persons were injured and about 20 shops suffered extensive damage. There was no sign of the bus stand which was buried under 15 ft of debris comprising muck, boulders and uprooted trees.

Munilal, who was washed away about 500 metres downstream after he was thrown out from the bus, virtually came back from the jaws of death. Similar was the story of Gursharan Singh and Ram Lal, owner and cleaner of the truck, which was washed away 2 km downstream. They had given up all hope as the truck twisted and turned in the fast flowing water. But somehow the two clung to the steering wheel to stay afloat. At one stage Ram Lal decided to jump out of the crumbling vehicle but Gursharan dissuaded him from doing so.

When everything seemed lost the bus, which was also washed into the khad collided with the truck and both vehicles stopped midstream.

The residents of Kotkhai Bazar who had seen the vehicles moving downstream with the debris from the bus stand informed the people of Darbar village.

Dalip Singh, an exserviceman who works as security guard at the local branch of the State Bank of India, located the marooned persons in pitch darkness.

He arranged ropes to rescue them. He showed courage in moving down the slope in heavy rain reach the bank and rescue them.

Upstream the local people located Munilal who was washed ashore but was buried in debris upto the shoulders. He had multiple fractures in the ribs, hand and legs. While eight persons were admitted to the local hospital, 3 seriously injured persons were shifted to the IGMC hospital at Shimla.

The roads leading to Kiari area and Rohru have been damaged by floods as a result of which the entire area beyond Kotkhai, including Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Khaleti, has been cutoff.

Mr Sushil Negi, Deputy Commissioner, Mr H.S. Thakur, Additional District Magistrate, and Mr Rajiv Gupta, General Manager of the State Road Transport Corporation, reached Kotkhai in the morning to supervise relief and rescue operations.

Mr Narinder Bragta, a former minister, however, alleged that the district administration was slow to react and the senior officers from Shimla reached the sport almost 12 hours after the calamity.

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