A huge boulder came crashing down on the gurdwara situated on the banks of Parvati river, burying several people alive. At least 15 pilgrims were injured in the incident.
“There was a heavy rush of pilgrims at the gurdwara and its surrounding areas when the landslide occurred,” said sarpanch of nearby Gadagi village Thakur Chand.
According to sources, the boulder hit the langar hall (community kitchen) and serai (accommodation) of the gurdwara. A multi-storey building near the river bank was also damaged.
Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said seven bodies had been extricated so far and rescue operation was on in full swing. “We have cleared the spot and the search operation is on. The injured have been admitted to the regional hospital in Kullu,” he said. More than 300 NDRF SSB, ITBP, Home Guard, fire and police personnel are engaged in the rescue operation.
Kullu sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Rohit Rathore, who was on the spot, said: “We are looking for bodies in the rubble.”
The police have restricted traffic movement to Manikaran Sahib so that relief and rescue operations are not hampered. The site has been cordoned off fearing more rock slips from the hilltop.
Sikh pilgrims from Punjab and other states visit the shrine every year during summer. Himachal Pradesh governor Acharya Devvrat and chief minister Virbhadra Singh have mourned the death of pilgrims. The CM directed the district administration to provide immediate relief to the next of the kin of the deceased and those injured.
The gurdwara is built near the river side and water of Parvati river touches the base pillars of the building. The gurdwara authorities, however, maintained there was nothing wrong with the construction. “The gurdwara committee has not violated any norms. It’s an ancient place and several people have faith in it,” said Gurdwara committee member Bakshi.