M A I N   N E W S

Himachal cloudburst leaves two dead
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Jagaatkhana (Kulu), August 13
Living in the higher reaches, far from the reach of the impending fury of the Sutlej, they thought they were safe, but when a cloudburst hit Jagaatkhana village in the wee hours today, claiming two lives, they were caught unawares.

A cloudburst following heavy rain in the night completely damaged five houses and buried two persons alive. The body of Sher Singh, a porter from Ropar in Punjab, has been recovered from the debris while rescue workers are still trying to locate Prem Bahadur (28) from Nepal, who was working as a cook.

While six persons — Deepu, Pyare Lal, Vinod, Dal Bahadur, Lal Chand and Shadi Lal — received minor injuries, 45 persons were shifted by the administration to Panchayat Bhavan. The cloudburst affected only a small portion of Jagaatkhana village, which had suffered a huge loss during the August, 1, 2000, floods. Senior officials, including the SDM, the DSP and the Tehsildar from the Ani area arrived at the spot and started rescue work.

Even though people in Jagaatkhana and Brow, falling under Ani subdivision in Kulu district, were awake throughout the night because of a downpour, they were taken in by surprise when water flooded their homes. “Though we were awake, when water flooded our home and the slab came down as boulders and trees hit it at about 6.15 am, we got no time to run to a safer place,” said Rukmani Devi, her clothes completely soiled. She, along with her husband Pyare Lal and daughter Anu, kept holed up inside a bathroom, which surprisingly remained intact.

Officials have estimated a loss of Rs 25 lakh as five houses have been completely damaged. People could be seen rummaging through the debris as they tried to pull out utensils, gas cylinders, bedding and clothes.

They said last time when the floods hit their village, they remained unaffected as they were at a higher point, much above the 25 metre danger level marked by the administration.

“Fortunately, the cloudburst occurred at 6.15 am when a majority of the porters and labourers living in rented accommodation had left for work,” said Mr Prakash Chand, Naib Tehsildar, Ani.

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