Eight killed, 10 injured as landslide hits Sikh temple

Eight killed, 10 injured as landslide hits Sikh temple
The damaged building adjoining the Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara in Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

New Delhi - 50 pilgrims and temple workers had been inside the complex in Manilkaran town.


Published: Tue 18 Aug 2015, 7:02 PM

Last updated: Tue 18 Aug 2015, 10:07 PM

A landslide struck a popular Sikh temple complex in northern India on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and wounding 10 others, police said.
Rescue workers equipped with cutting equipment and sniffer dogs were searching through the rubble for survivors after boulders barrelled down a nearby hill onto the complex in Himachal Pradesh state.
"So far we have recovered eight bodies and 10 people have been shifted to hospital," said Padam Dev, police chief of Kullu district where the accident occurred.
Dev said it was unclear if anybody was trapped, but about 50 pilgrims and temple workers had been inside the complex in Manilkaran town, some 240km from the capital Shimla at the time.
The boulders struck and badly damaged a building adjoining the Gurdwara Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Sikh followers.
The temple was built to commemorate the spot where Sikh religion founder Guru Nanak is said to have meditated more than five centuries ago.
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar confirmed that eight bodies which were buried under huge boulders have been extricated while search is on for more.
Eyewitnesses claimed that the dead could be more than 10 in number as a large number of people had taken shelter in the building, close to the Gurdwara, when the tragedy struck.
The exact number of dead or injured could not be ascertained as some bodies are feared to be buried under the debris.
The district administration has sought the assistance of Gurdwara authorities in locating and identifying the bodies as most people staying in the building were outsiders.
People ran helter-skelter as boulders fell on the building and many were trapped as a huge portion of the three-storey building virtually collapsed.
The locals and Gurdwara management immediately swung into action and started rescue operations while Additional District Magistrate, Sub Divisional Magistrate, Kullu and other district officials rushed to the spot.
Those injured have been admitted to zonal hospital at Kullu and condition of seven of them is stated to be serious.
DGP Sanjay Kumar said some of the 10 injured and were in a critical condition.
"We have deputed police force led by the district SP. They are engaged in swift rescue operation", he said.
"The boulder, which slipped from a top of the mountain, has smashed a rear portion of the Gurudawara damaging a few floors," he said.
DC Kullu Rakesh Kanwar said those who had minor injuries were treated on the spot and their condition was fine and added that the exact number of dead would be known after verification.
The DC said the building was an encroachment and would be evacuated soon.
"It has be evacuated and not to be occupied in the coming days, so that its structural strength and other things are checked before it is exposed to other use. Maybe it will be dismantled altogether but that is a call that has be taken later," Kanwar said.
"The building is a total encroachment. It is not an authorised, legal structure and we have already issued notices to forest authorities, to take action against them, so it is a violation," the DC further said.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Kullu, Surinder Verma said the entire area has been cordoned off fearing more rock falls.
Meanwhile, a team of ITBP personnel from the force's 2nd battalion based in Kullu district has been rushed to the spot.
"The team has about 30 mountain-trained personnel including a doctor. They will assist locals and the administration in relief and rescue operations at the landslide spot," a senior Indo-Tibetan Border Police official said.
Landslides are common in the Himalayan region, mostly in the current monsoon season when heavy rains make the ground unstable.
Last month, some 38 people were killed in rain-triggered landslides in India's tea-growing region of Darjeeling.

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