A heavy vehicle clearing debris from a landslide

(Bilal Bahadur/ BCCL)

Wednesday, July 6: As the low-pressure area continues to develop over Gujarat, its ploys with the active monsoon trough have already resulted in devastating calamities in some parts of Himachal Pradesh. As per reports, a cloudburst wreaked havoc in the Parvati Valley of Kullu district on Wednesday morning, leading to flash floods and landslides that have since claimed one life with at least six people missing.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall for the state on Wednesday, which unfortunately rang true. Incessant overnight rains have triggered landslides near the Dhalli tunnel in Shimla, where one woman lost her life while two migrant workers had to be rushed to the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital for treatment, reports Shimla District Emergency Operations Centre (DEOC).

The downpour has also resulted in flash floods storming the Kullu and Kinnaur districts, washing away at least four people as well as some cattle. While search teams have been dispatched, officials have said that their movement has been severely restricted due to landslides in the Kasol-Jaimala road, adding further fuel to this already-precarious fire.

As for the cloudburst, it occurred at Choj village in Chhalal panchayat in the Kullu subdivision, IANS reported. The only bridge connecting to the village was also damaged in the subsequent flash floods, further hampering movement and possible rescue operations. This has also led to Malana village in the Manikaran valley in the Kullu district being effectively cut off from the rest of the state, as per reports by NDTV.

A cloudburst is a period of sudden and brief very heavy rainfall which is very localised to a particular area. Cloudbursts are especially common and destructive in mountainous areas due to the nature of the slopes. In recent years, they have become very frequent and erratic as a result of climate change and temperature rise in J&K, Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

However, it must be noted that there is no official confirmation of ‘cloudburst’ so far and it is unlikely that sufficient heavy rains have occurred at any place for an official declaration. Any incident of very heavy rain within a short span of time often gets termed as a ‘cloudburst’, while the official definitions usually vary across the world. As per the IMD, rainfall of over 100 mm within an hour along with lightning and strong winds is termed as cloudburst.

Other collateral destruction included some vehicular damage from the landslide as well as some river-bank cafes that were washed away due to the floods, IANS reports.

Meanwhile, the heavy showers are expected to continue across Himachal Pradesh until this weekend, albeit their intensity will decrease slightly from Thursday onwards, the IMD has indicated.

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