2 BRO officers die in Himachal rain rescue operations; 3 trekkers missing in Lahaul-Spiti, 200 stranded

Another heavy rain warning in Himachal till August 3

Tribune News Service

Mandi, July 31

Two Border Roads Organisation (BRO) officers lost their lives during rescue and relief operations in Himachal Pradesh, which is witnessing flash floods and landslides due to heavy rainfall.

The BRO lost an engineer and a project officer during relief and rescue operation in the state.  In Lahaul and Spiti Valley, the strategic Manali - Sarchu road was closed for traffic at various places due to multiple landslides. "BRO's Project Deepak located at Shimla immediately despatched its trained Engineering Task Force with personnel and equipment to undertake the rescue and road clearing operations," BRO said in a statement.

On July 29, on one such stretch near Sarchu ahead of Baralachala pass on Manali Leh road, a number of civilians, including women and children, were stranded and facing problems due to lack of oxygen in inclement high-altitude conditions.

Heavy rain warning till August 3  

Himachal Pradesh is unlikely to get any respite from continuing bad weather in the coming days as the meteorological department has issued a fresh yellow weather warning for heavy rains in the hill state till August 3.

The Shimla MeT Centre advised the public, especially the tourists, to not go near rivers and water bodies as the water level may increase any time due to heavy rains in the coming days.

It warned that landslides and uprooting of trees may also occur at some places.

Heavy rains are likely to occur in the plains and low and mid hills of the state till August 5, a MeT department official said. However, the department issued a yellow warning of heavy rainfall till August 3.

Over 200 still stuck in Lahaul-Spiti, three trekkers go missing

Over 200 people are still stranded in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul-Spiti following a cloudburst and landslides earlier this week even as three trekkers were reported missing on Friday.

A national highway was also closed to traffic following a major landslide in Sirmaur's Paonta Sahib.

State Disaster Management Director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta in a statement said the stranded people could not be evacuated as sorties by helicopter could not be carried out due to bad weather.

The sorties to rescue them have now been planned for Saturday, if the weather permits, he added.

Mokhta said of the 221 stranded in the district's Udaipur, 191 are from parts of Himachal Pradesh while 30 are from seven other states.

Among the stranded, 13 are from Punjab, four from New Delhi, three each from Maharashtra and Odisha, two each from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and one each from Jharkhand, Karnataka and Ladakh.

Besides, 106 people are from Himachal Pradesh's Kullu, 51 from Mandi, 12 from Chamba, nine from Bilaspur, five from Kangra, three from Shimla, two each from Solan and Sirmaur and one from Hamirpur.

Mokhta said three trekkers have also gone missing in the district. While one of them is from Rajasthan, details of the other two are not known yet.

Mokhta said according to information received from the Sissu police check-post, Nikunj Jaiswal of Bikaner in Rajasthan and his two companions had left for trekking to Ghepan Peak Lake on Monday and were supposed to come back on July 29.

However, they did not reach their destination and the search for them has been launched, he said.

Meanwhile, Mokhta said the NH-707 was closed to traffic after a major landslide at Badwas in Sirmaur's Paonta Sahib at 12.04 pm on Friday.  A massive portion of a mountainside crashed destroying a 300-metre stretch of the road to Paonta Sahib.A video clip on social media showed chunks of earth and rocks sliding down. A long section of the road is seen crumpling, being carried away be the debris from the mountainside.

Chandigarh-Manali highway restored 

Chandigarh-Manali highway has been restored for traffic, which was blocked on Saturday morning due to a landslide at 7 miles near Pandoh in Mandi district.

 Inputs from IANS/PTI

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