Two persons were killed, 22 injured while at least a dozen went missing after heavy downpour triggered by cloudburst at MSP-7 near South portal of Rohtang Tunnel on intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday.
A body was recovered by riverside from Nehru Kund and another near Old Manali, about 20 km from the spot, Manali sub-divisional magistrate Balbir Thakur said. Bodies could not be identified so far. “The flash flood startled around 130 labourers on the site at around 12.30 am and 22 injured labourers were rescued within an hour. All are out of danger now,” he said.
Kullu deputy commissioner BM Nanta said a massive search and rescue operation was underway involving teams of police, ITBP, SSB, snow avalanche study establishment, border roads organization, Atal Bihari Vajpayee institute of mountaineering and allied sports and some private construction companies and they were searching for the bodies at different stretches of the treacherous terrains of Dhundi and across the river Beas in district. The river Beas is in spate and alert has been sounded in the Kullu district.
The scene could have been even horrible if the cloudburst was occurred few minutes earlier. “Around 130 labourers were working on the site till 11.30 pm. They heard a loud sound of flowing water and debris. Most of them escaped while 22 got trapped in debris and two were drowned to death. Eight more labourers are still missing,” Nanta added.
According to him, there was strong possibility of cloudburst on the mountains but they also noticed a huge broken part of a glacier above the region which could have made the disaster.
The labourers were working for Garg and Garg, a private construction company, on approach road to Rohtang tunnel. They were building snow galleries (avalanche tunnels) at MSP-7, around 20 km from Manali.
30 labourers were killed in a cloudburst in Kangni Nullah near here on August 7, 2003.