17 March 2008

A nasty landslide in India

Posted by Dave Petley

News reports from India this evening suggest that there has been a very nasty landslide in Himachal Pradesh. The Indian newspaper The Tribune reports that:
At least six persons were killed and eight injured when a huge rock rolled down from the Nehru Kund hill on the Manali-Rohtang highway, about 5 km from here, this evening. The death toll could be higher as the debris brought down by the slide was spread over a large area.”
According to eyewitnesses, the hillock came down with thunder, which rattled the doors and windows of buildings, located far away…Rescue operations were on to retrieve the vehicles and any other victims buried. The sub-divisional magistrate Vinay Singh, assisted by a team of police, was supervising the operations. Rescue operations were hampered due to the darkness, though search light had been being used to continue search for victims…The famous Nehru Kund water spring was buried along with the temple. Local people informed that some tourists might also have been buried under the debris. Hundreds of vehicles, mostly of the tourists who were away towards Rohtang for sight seeing, were stranded as the landslide blocked the road.

Unfortunately Nehru Kund is a popular tourist destination, as this description on Maps of India shows:
One of the many exciting Manali Tourist Attractions, the Nehru Kund is only a 6 km journey from the heart of the Manali Town towards Keylong. The Nehru Kund is actually a spring which was named after the first prime minister of India – Late Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. The serenity of the place will please any mortal on earth. The respected prime minister loved visiting the place and drink the crystal clear water from the spring when he used to stay in Manali. The graceful clean water spring is said to have its source at the Bhrigu Lake. The sound of the bubbling water amidst the peaceful silence of the place will play like music to your ears. The Nehru Kund is conveniently located on the National Highway on the way to Leh. It has emerged as a must visit for the tourists in Manali.

I fear that the deathtoll in this event could be rather higher than six.