At least 46 people were killed and an several others wounded as a massive landslide buried two passenger buses in northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, local media reported today.
The toll in the incident, which took place on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, could rise further as over 50 passengers were travelling in the two buses hit by the landslide, officials said.
The landslip covering an area of over 250 metres was triggered by a cloud burst. Some other vehicles may also have been hit by the landslide, the officials said.
"Forty-six bodies have been recovered, and of those 23 were identified," an official said.
The two buses had halted for a tea break for the passengers at Kotrupi when the tragedy struck. Information was received after 1:00am about the incident, an official said.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who visited the spot, said that eight passengers were travelling in one Volvo bus, of whom three lost their lives, while five were rescued.
There were around 47 passengers in the second bus which was on its way from Manali to Chamba, an official said.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Army and the police rushed to the spot and heavy earth-moving machinery was deployed at the gorge where the two buses lay buried under a heap of debris.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths. "Pained by the loss of lives due to landslide related accidents in HP's Mandi district. My condolences with the families of the deceased," Modi tweeted.
This is the third such major incident in Himachal Pradesh since 1988. 45 bus passengers perished in a landslide in Shimla district in 1988 while 42 passengers were buried in an incident in Kullu district in 1994.