Rescuers pull out six bodies after landslide hits north India

DHARAMSALA, India — Army soldiers and rescue workers on Sunday pulled out six bodies from two buses that were covered in mud after a landslide triggered by heavy monsoon rain in north India.

The coaches had stopped for a tea break around midnight Saturday in Himachal Pradesh when tons of rock and mud swept away an entire stretch of highway roughly 200 km from the state capital Shimla.

The landslide that occurred early Sunday in Urla village in Himachal Pradesh state buried part of a highway, trapping two buses and at least three cars, said district official Sandeep Kadam.

Soldiers used shovels and pickaxes to remove rocks, boulders and mud that covered the buses and pull out the bodies.

It was not immediately clear how many people were traveling in the buses, Kadam said.

Rescue teams reached the scene but struggled in the dark and steep terrain, with the army later joining the search.

The Press Trust of India reported 30 people were feared dead in the disaster, while other reports suggested an even higher toll.

Some houses and slum dwellings were also destroyed in the landslide, which followed days of heavy rain in the Himalayan region.

Landslides are common in India, especially during monsoon months when heavy rain loosens steep hillsides.

At least five people were killed last month in a mudslide in remote Arunachal Pradesh state along the border with China.

Hundreds have died across India in torrential rain, floods and landslides since the onset of the wet season in April.

Landslides are common in the area during the monsoon season, which runs from June through September.

The area around the village has been deforested extensively, increasing its vulnerability to landslides. Similar deforestation and environmental damage have caused floods and landslides in other parts of India. — Agencies