In yet another tragic natural calamity caused by cloudburst and flash flood, this time in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, two people lost their lives and dozens got injured. The hilly regions are always vulnerable to cloud bursts and flash floods in Monsoon season and this time nature fury was received by the home of god and goddesses, Manali. The incident took place in the night itself about 12.30 AM near Dhundi in Manali region which is the Southern Portal of Rohtang Pass tunnel. The labors were working at the time tragedy struck and 2 people have found dead while some are still missing. There were more than dozen who got injured but were rescued and are now out of danger. Rohtang Pass tunnel project will connect Lahaul Valley and Kullu Valley and all the people who were affected are the labors of this project only. There have been no news on if this incident has affected the traffic on Manali – Leh Highway or not, which is already facing lots of chaos near Rani Nalla owing to constant landslides.
Alerts have also been sounded around the areas of Beas river which is also in spate owing to earlier rains in the valley and now the flash flood in Manali has increased the levels of Beas river by one meter above normal.
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MANALI, July 21 2011: Eight persons were washed away in a cloudburst that struck makeshift camps of labourers at Fingri Nullah on the approach road to the south portal of the Rohtang tunnel, 21 km from here, last night. The labourers were involved in the construction of a 120-metre-long snow gallery at the tunnel site.
So far two bodies have been recovered while six persons are still missing in the flash flood. The two bodies have been identified as those of Raj Kumar (28) of Chamba district and Tikeshwer Kumar (40) of Rewalsar in Mandi district.
The six missing persons are Gautam Mandal (23) of Jharkhand, Dole Ram (23) of Bali Chowki, Mandi, Jai Pal (33) of UP, Madan Kumar (23) of Chamba, Shiv Ram (32) of Sarkaghat, Mandi, and Krishna Jaiswal of UP.
Twentyfour injured labourers were brought to Lady Willingdon Hospital, Manali, last night. While 21 labourers were discharged after giving them first aid, three are still undergoing treatment in the hospital.
Relief and rescue operations were undertaken by the district administration, the Border Roads Organisation the ITBP and the Mountaineering Institute, Manali.
Vijender Kumar, site in charge of Garg and Garg Company, said 130 labourers were staying at the makeshift camps. They were involved in the construction of the snow gallery on the Rohtang tunnel road. He said last night at around 10.30 pm, the workers of the snow gallery ended the day’s work and were resting in the makeshift camps.
Past midnight, suddenly there was a thumping sound in the nullah and boulders and sand came down towards the snow gallery and the water changed its course towards the camp site. He said due to the flash flood, three transit mixer trucks, two tippers, a JCB, a concrete pump, two DG sets, 100 tonnes of steel, three official sheds, six labour sheds and 6,000 shuttering plates were stuck in the debris.
He said 1,600 bags of cement, some equipment and vehicles were washed away and some were still stuck in the huge debris.
The road between Fingri Nullah and the Rohtang tunnel and a bridge had been washed away. Hundreds of workers working in the 8.8-km-long Rohtang tunnel and vehicles between Dhundi and Solang had been stranded on both sides of the road.
Local MLA Govind Singh Thakur, Kullu Deputy Commissioner BM Nanta, Kullu SP Abhishek Dhuller, Manali SDM Balbir Thakur and Chief Engineer, BRO (Project Rohtang Tunnel), PK Mahajan and commander of 38, BRTF, AK Dikshit were among those who visted the site and supervised the rescue and relief operations.
Narrating the incident, a security guard at the site said, “It was dark and I heard a roaring sound in the nullah at around 12.30 am and rushed out when water and debris entered the gallery. There was panic all around as most workers had not slept”.
“We helped one another come out of the debris,” said workers, who were shell shocked.
The company and the BRO did not pay attention to the safety of the workers by erecting their sheds at the nullah which is prone to avalanches. No ambulance had kept by the company in standby, the workers rued.
Meanwhile, the Kullu SP said the death toll could go up as the company had no proper list of the exact number of workers present at the site at the time of the flash flood.
- The victims were involved in the construction of a 120-metre-long snow gallery at the Rohtang tunnel site. So far, two bodies have been recovered.
External Source: Cloudburst in Manali: 2 dead, many missing
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