Landslide in India kills 45 people

A landslide that swept two passenger buses off a hillside in northern India has killed 45 people, officials have said. 

The landslide in Urla village in Himachal Pradesh state, which was triggered on Sunday by heavy monsoon rains, buried part of the highway, trapping two cars and a motorbike as well as the buses.

Soldiers used shovels and pickaxes to remove rocks, boulders and debris covering the buses and pull out the bodies.

Rescue efforts were hampered by intermittent rain, said Ashok Sharma, a police officer who was at the site.

“One of the buses is buried under nearly 15 meters (50 feet) of mud,” Mr Sharma said earlier. “It will take us many hours to extricate the bus.”

Mr Sharma said he did not hold out much hope of any survivors.

Dozens of houses were washed away in the torrential rain that hit the Mandi region in the Himalayan foothills.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences: “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.”

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.

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