Himalayan tragedy

The murderous rain hammering the lower Himalayas in Uttarakhand and north Bengal claimed more lives on Wednesday, taking the number of deaths caused by landslides and rising river levels in Uttarakhand to 52. Five people remain missing, according to officials.

Road connectivity to Nainital was restored after two days. The hill town had been cut off after landslide debris blocked all three routes to Nainital.

“In the last three days, rescue personnel have evacuated and rescued approximately 8,000 people,” Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said.

In Haridwar, the Ganga was flowing near the danger mark and its strong current had damaged an embankment.

Five lives have been lost in north Bengal since Monday and two girls swept away in the raging Torsha river in Jaigaon, Alipurduar, on Wednesday. Their bodies remain unrecovered. The downpour in north Bengal came after a low pressure area over Bihar intensified into a cyclonic circulation. At least a couple of bridges were damaged and several roads caved in.

A Met office red alert warned of extremely heavy rainfall in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar on Thursday. Several parts of Kalimpong remained cut off for most of Wednesday due to multiple landslides.

Kalimpong DM R Vimala said 46 landslides had occurred between Monday and Wednesday as Kalimpong had received 335 mm of rainfall in this period. In Himachal Pradesh, two national highways and 15 link roads are still closed. BRO officials said avalanches have occurred in Patseo-Baralacha region and the snow is being removed. Though traffic was restored on the Spiti road, the Manali-Leh highway is still closed.

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