Heavy rains trigger floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan region, leaving at least 16 dead

by Ryan Lee
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Intense monsoon downpours have caused floods and landslides in the Himalayan region of India, resulting in the death of at least 16 individuals and leaving numerous others trapped, according to authorities on Monday.

Seven fatalities were reported following a cloudburst in Himachal Pradesh state’s Solan district on Sunday night. In Shimla, the capital of the state, another nine bodies were discovered beneath mud and debris following two landslides, according to Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who posted the news on X, the social media network previously referred to as Twitter.

Efforts are underway by state officials to support affected families, and rescue operations are focused on clearing the rubble and assisting those still caught in the aftermath.

Himalayan regions frequently experience cloudbursts, but the growing frequency of extreme weather events has raised concerns among experts. Cloudbursts are defined by rainfall exceeding 10 centimeters (3.94 inches) across a 10 square kilometers (3.86 square miles) area within an hour, leading to severe flooding and landslides. This phenomenon can affect thousands of lives in India’s mountainous regions.

During the relentless rain, homes in Solan were swept away, and roads became inundated, according to police reports provided to the Press Trust of India. Landslides near a Hindu temple in Shimla raised concerns that the death toll may continue to climb as rescue workers struggle to reach those still trapped.

The state government has closed all schools and colleges, and over 700 roads, overwhelmed by floodwaters, have been shut down.

Warnings of further moderate to heavy rainfall in various parts of the state were issued by India’s weather department on Monday. A red alert was declared for intense rains in neighboring Uttarakhand state over the weekend, where the monsoon season has already claimed 60 lives, as reported by PTI.

The region was hit hard in July as well, with record monsoon rainfall killing more than 100 people in two weeks in northern India, including Himachal Pradesh, the most severely affected area.

During the June to September monsoon period, landslides and floods regularly inflict damage in India’s northern Himalayan regions. The increasing frequency of these disasters is believed to be linked to global warming, which contributes to the region’s glacial melt.

Just last year, flash floods took the lives of nearly 200 individuals and destroyed homes in Uttarakhand.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about landslides

What caused the floods and landslides in India’s Himalayan region?

Intense monsoon rains triggered the floods and landslides in the Himalayan region of India.

How many people were reported dead due to these events?

At least 16 people were reported dead as a result of the floods and landslides.

Where did the cloudburst occur that killed seven people?

The cloudburst occurred in Himachal Pradesh state’s Solan district.

What are cloudbursts, and why are they alarming in this context?

Cloudbursts are a sudden and intense rainfall event that can exceed 10 centimeters (3.94 inches) across a 10 square kilometers (3.86 square miles) area within an hour. They can lead to severe flooding and landslides and affect thousands of lives. Experts are alarmed by the increase in such extreme weather-related events in the Himalayan regions.

Were there any warnings or alerts issued?

India’s weather department warned of more moderate to heavy rainfall in various parts of the state and issued a red alert over the weekend for intense downpours in neighboring Uttarakhand state.

What are some of the broader consequences of the monsoon season in northern India?

The monsoon season, running from June to September, often leads to landslides and floods in India’s northern Himalayan regions. The increasing frequency of these disasters, potentially linked to global warming and glacial melt, highlights broader environmental concerns. Last year, flash floods killed nearly 200 people in Uttarakhand.

How are authorities responding to the situation?

State authorities are assisting impacted families, and rescuers are working to clear debris and help those still trapped. All schools and colleges have been shut, and over 700 roads inundated with water have been closed.

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