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18 killed in highest-ever rainfall in Himachal

Eighteen people, including three children, were killed on Sunday due to heavy rainfall-related incidents across Himachal Pradesh, officials said.

The India Meteorological Department in Shimla said Sunday”s showers were the highest rainfall recorded by the state in 24 hours, over the past 70 years.

Hundreds remained stranded after incessant rainfall triggered landslides, snapped road links, led to shutting down of hydropower projects and release of excess water from a dam, an official said.

Traffic on the Chandigarh-Manali Highway was blocked between Mandi and Kullu towns following massive landslides along the swollen Beas river. The Mandi-Jogindernagar Highway was also closed for traffic.

Traffic was hampered on 68 roads across the state and the maximum 47 blockades were in Chamba district, a government spokesperson told here.

A Balley bridge near Kullu town was washed away due to flashflood. As a precaution, excess water was released from Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd”s (SJVNL) 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri plant — India”s largest hydro project in Kinnaur district — which led to flooding in the Satluj river, he said.

In Ghumarwin in Bilaspur district, eight families and their livestock were evacuated from their houses owing to flooding in the area.

In Chamba district, two people, including a 70-year-old man, were reported missing in landslide in Lona gram panchayat in Chamba district. Boulders smashed their house, police said.

Authorities said excess water was discharged from the Pandoh diversion dam, located 112 km upstream of Pong dam, as a precautionary measure. The outflow from the dam was one lakh cusecs.

The Pandoh diversion dam is located on Beas river in Mandi district. It diverts excess monsoon water towards Pong dam. Otherwise, it diverts water towards Satluj river, which feeds the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra dam.

Though the inflow of water into state”s Pong and Bhakra dam increased dramatically due to heavy rainfall, authorities said there was no need for worry as the reservoirs have surplus capacity.

The entire Kangra district has been experiencing heavy rain for the past two days.

Precipitation occurred at most places in the state with very heavy rainfall in Kangra, Kullu and Chamba districts in the past 24 hours, an official of the Meteorological office here said.

The state as a whole received 102.5 mm and this was 1,065 per cent more than normal for a day, the IMD said.

All districts received excesses rainfall. The highest rainfall 252 mm was recorded in Bilaspur district, which is 2,586 per cent more than normal, it added.

There were reports of link road closure in the interiors of Shimla, Sirmaur, Mandi, Kangra and Kullu districts, hampering movement of traffic.

The spokesperson said Satluj, Beas and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries have been again in spate in Kinnaur, Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Bilaspur and Sirmaur districts.

According to the Met office, heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely at some places in the state till Monday.

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