At least nine tourists, including four from Rajasthan, were killed and three others seriously injured in a rockslide in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district on Sunday, the police said.
The tourists were on the way from Sangla to Chitkul, a popular tourist spot some 250 km from Shimla, when the boulders fell on their vehicle, killing nine on the spot.
A video of the disaster showing massive boulders sliding off the hilltop and damaging a bailey bridge and a portion of the highway has gone viral.
Superintendent of Police S.R. Rana said the rescue operation was on and the road has been closed for the traffic. Nearly 50 vehicles were stranded on the road stretch.
Two of the injured have been referred to a nearby hospital.
Eyewitnesses said the administration had a tough time extricating the victims from the boulders.
People in the area began rescue operations even before local authorities reached the spot.
The deceased include three of a family hailing from Rajasthan’s Sikar, and a woman from Jaipur.
Deepa Sharma, 34, of Jaipur, was posting some beautiful pictures on her social media accounts a few hours before her sudden death, which has left her followers shocked.
The victims also included Maya Devi Biyani, 55, from Sikar’s Bajaj Road (near Maheshwari Dharamshala), her son Anurag Biyani (35) and daughter Richa Biyani (25). Anurag was working as a Company Secretary in Mumbai, where the entire family lived, though they had a house in Sikar too.
The three had just come from Sikar two days back, though Anurag’s father had stayed back there and his elder sister had gone back to Mumbai.
Expressing grief over the accident, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur asked local authorities to speed up the rescue work and provide relief to the next of kin of each of those killed and injured.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed grief over the deaths and announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured.