The death toll in a landslide continued to rise in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district, reaching 46 by early morning on Monday, August 14.
Earlier reports had pegged the number of dead at 15 — all primarily from two buses that were swept off the road by the landslide. However, debris from the landslide also managed to destroy at least five houses, which led to more deaths.
Local reports said at least 46 bodies had been pulled from the debris till the early hours of Monday. The toll is expected to rise even further as search operations resume on Monday.
The landslide is believed to have taken place at Kotrupi village along the Mandi-Pathankot highway in Himachal Pradesh at 1.15 am on Sunday, August 13.
The early morning landslide meant people in their homes had little time to wake up and get out of the way of the waves of debris that hit their houses.
However, the bigger tragedy was for two Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses.
An HRTC statement said the buses had stopped at the village for some midnight tea — a staple for drivers there so they can keep warm and awake throughout a night of driving.
The buses carried at least 50 people, all of whom are believed to be dead, as the landslide swept both vehicles off the road.
The air-conditioned bus from Manali to Katra had eight passengers on board and was sent rolling into a 200-metre-deep gorge by a boulder from the landslide.
The Manali-Chamba bus had 50 passengers, and the landslide swept it 2 km down the hill from the road where it was standing.
Commiseration and compensation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already tweeted out his commiserations over the tragedy. "Pained by the loss of lives due to landslide-related accidents in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district. My condolences with the families of the deceased," he wrote.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the spot of the landslide and took stock of the situation on Sunday.
He was apprised that the same rain that was believed to have caused the landslide was also hampering rescue operations.
The state government subsequently announced solatium of Rs 2 lakh each for the deceased.