Intense monsoon rains have triggered destructive floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan region, resulting in the loss of at least 22 lives and leaving numerous individuals trapped, as reported by officials on Monday.
A cloudburst in mountainous Himachal Pradesh state’s Solan district on Sunday night killed nine people in the area, and nine more bodies were pulled out from under mud and debris after two landslides in Shimla, the state’s capital, authorities told the Press Trust of India news agency.
Four others were killed in heavy rains and a landslide in the state’s Hamirpur district, they added.
The state’s chief minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, said rescuers in Shimla were working to clear the debris and help those still trapped.
Cloudbursts are a common occurrence in Himalayan regions, but experts say they are alarmed by the increase in extreme weather-related events in the area. Cloudbursts occur when more than 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) of rainfall occurs within 10 square kilometers (3.8 square miles) within an hour. They have the potential to cause intense flooding and landslides and can affect thousands of people in India’s mountainous regions.
Homes in Solan were washed away and roads flooded in the incessant rains, police told PTI. In Shimla, the landslides brought down a Hindu temple, and authorities said the death toll could rise as they work to pull out those who are still trapped.
All schools and colleges in the state have been shut and more than 700 inundated roads have been closed.
India’s weather department warned that moderate to heavy rainfall will hit various parts of the state on Monday. It had issued a red alert over the weekend for intense downpours in neighboring Uttarakhand state, where 60 people have died in monsoon rains this season, PTI reported.
In July, record monsoon showers killed more than 100 people over two weeks in parts of northern India, including in Himachal Pradesh, which was the worst hit.
Disasters caused by landslides and floods are common in India’s Himalayan north during the June-September monsoon season. Scientists say they are becoming more frequent as global warming contributes to the melting of glaciers there.
Last year, flash floods killed nearly 200 people and washed away houses in Uttarakhand.