Himachal landslide: Punjab sends rescue team to evacuate pilgrims

Chandigarh, Aug 18 (IANS) The Punjab government on Tuesday dispatched a rescue team to help pilgrims stranded in the landslide-hit Sikh shrine of Manikaran Sahib in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district.

Seven people were killed and 11 injured in the landslide that hit the gurdwara complex on Tuesday. All the victims were from Rogla Tarwa Mandi village in Punjab’s Sangrur district.

Two seriously injured people were referred to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here for treatment.

Reports reaching the Punjab government here suggested that more people could be trapped due to the landslide.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal expressed shock over the tragic incident.

He announced a grant of Rs.1 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs.25,000 for the seriously injured. He said the entire expenditure for the treatment of the injured would be borne by the state government.

Badal also spoke to his Himachal Pradesh counterpart Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday evening and assured him of immediate help from his government in rescue operations.

Shiromani Akali Dal president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has directed Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh to immediately send a team to assess the damage caused to the gurdwara complex for undertaking repair and reconstruction of the damaged portion expeditiously, a state government spokesman said here.

“The SGPC would also ensure langar (community kitchen) at the shrine for the pilgrims, which has been badly disrupted due to this incident,” the spokesman said.

The special rescue team sent to the shrine is led by Punjab special secretary-revenue Dilraj Singh and Inspector General of Police Gautam Cheema.

The team includes officers of civil and police administration, besides doctors and para-medical staff.

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