Floods and landslides kill at least 24 people with dozens missing in northern India

At least 24 people have been killed, nine of them in a temple collapse, and dozens more are feared missing after intense rains caused floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan region.

Days of torrential downpours have washed away vehicles, demolished buildings and destroyed bridges in the northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

Flooding and landslides are common and cause widespread devastation during India’s treacherous monsoon season, but experts say the climate crisis is increasing their frequency and severity.

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, the worst-affected state, said at least 16 people had died in the past 24 hours, including nine in a Hindu temple collapse in the state capital, Shimla.

“The local administration is diligently working to clear the debris in order to rescue individuals who may still be trapped,” the chief minister said in a statement.

Images showed bodies being pulled out of thick piles of dark earth that have crushed buildings and smashed roofs.

Thousands of people have been stranded, with key roads, power lines and communication networks disrupted.

Railway lines were seen dangling in midair, with the ground beneath them washed away.

Sukhu, who posted on social media a “disturbing” video of a raging torrent swamping roads, appealed to people to stay indoors and avoid going near rivers.

Schools in the state had been shut, he added.

The president of India, Droupadi Murmu, said she was “hurt with the loss of lives in accidents because of heavy rains” and offered her condolences to those who have suffered in Himachal Pradesh.

In neighbouring Uttarakhand state, rescue teams removed debris after people were feared buried when heavy rainfall triggered landslides.

Five people were buried under debris after a landslide hit a resort near the popular yoga retreat of Rishikesh on the banks of the Ganges River.

District police superintendent, Shweta Choubey, told AFP that a girl had been rescued from the site but that the rest of her family was still under the collapsed building.

At least eight people have been killed since Friday in the state, officials said.

Several riverside towns and villages in both the Himalayan northern states were at risk of flash floods from the heavy rain predicted in the region.

The monsoon brings south Asia about 80% of its annual rainfall and is vital for agriculture and the livelihoods of millions. But it also brings destruction every year in the form of landslides and floods.

Last month, days of relentless monsoon rains killed at least 90 people, while in the capital, New Delhi, the Yamuna River reached its highest levels since 1978.


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