The disastrous incident happened in Batseri, a village in the Sangla valley of Himachal Pradesh state on Sunday. A landslide on one of the valley’s slopes sent massive, car-sized boulders tumbling down onto a bridge spanning a river below.
Video recorded by one witness shows the landslide rushing down the opposite slope of the valley. Several people can be heard whistling and shouting words of warning as the dusty disaster comes surging down the hill over the course of a few seconds.
Boulders come tumbling down the slope at the head of the landslide, crashing over a sharp cliff and smashing into buildings, cars and the bridge below. One particularly large boulder hits an outcrop and flies through the air before taking out the corner of a building.
The person filming the video watches from inside a building as the dust sweeps over the opposite shore, obscuring the damage caused by the boulders. A large boulder flies out of the cloud at one point and strikes near the centre of the bridge, breaking it in two and dropping it into the river.
Nine Indian tourists were killed in the landslide when a boulder struck their vehicle, local authorities said. The bodies have since been recovered, Kinnaur police Supt. Sarju Ram Rana told the Hindustan Times.
Officials say the landslide was caused by recent rainfall. Authorities had warned about the potential for such a disaster in the days before it happened, they said.
“The hilltop is highly prone to landslides,” Pradeep Negi, a local village leader, told the Hindustan Times. “We have been observing the shooting stones for the top of the hill for the last two days.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to the incident by sending his “heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.” Modi also pledged to offer government relief funds to all those affected by the disaster.
Himachal Pradesh’s chief minister, Jairam Thakur, described the landslide as “heart-wrenching,” and promised to provide immediate help to the area.
Torrential monsoon rains triggered landslides and flooding along the west coast of India over the weekend, killing at least 125 people and leaving dozens trapped.
— with files from Reuters
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