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Heavy Landslides Have Killed 72 People In Himalayas Of India, Climate Blamed

NEW DELHI (AP) — Days of relentless rain in India’s Himalayan region have killed at least 72 people this week, a government official said Thursday, as a heavy monsoon triggered landslides and flash floods that have submerged roads, washed away buildings and left residents scrambling for safety.

Rescuers in the mountainous Himachal Pradesh state have been working through challenging weather conditions to save people trapped under mud and debris from the rains that struck over the weekend. India’s weather department has put the state on high alert and expects the downpours to continue over the next few days.

Vikram Singh, an operator at the state’s emergency operation center, said on Thursday that the 72 deaths occurred over the previous five days and that rescue work was ongoing. Hundreds of roads remain blocked and schools in the capital city of Shimla have been ordered shut as the Indian Air Force and disaster response teams help evacuate people from low-lying, vulnerable areas. The state’s chief minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, said over 2,000 people have been rescued using helicopters and motor boats and are now safe in relief camps.

Visuals on social media showed trees falling apart as homes, built atop the hills, collapsed in succession. In the background, people can be heard crying out in horror, as they shouted “get out from here” and “get back.”

In Shimla, a Hindu temple collapsed on Monday amid deadly landslides, and authorities feared that people are still buried under the debris. Authorities said the temple was crowded with devotees, raising fears that the death toll could rise as rescue work carries on.Sukhu, the chief minister, told the Press Trust of India news agency that it will take a year to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by the rains of this monsoon, and claimed the estimated loss to be about 100 billion rupees ($1.2 billion). “It’s a big challenge, a mountain-like challenge,” he said.

Last month, record monsoon showers killed more than 100 people over two weeks in parts of northern India, including in Himachal Pradesh, which was the worst hit.

Disasters caused by landslides and floods are common in India’s Himalayan north during the June-September monsoon season. Scientists say they are becoming more frequent as global warming increases.


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