Landslide leaves 47 dead in northern India, after it sweeps two buses off road

Indian rescuers remove the body of a victim after a landslide along a highway at Kotrupi on August 13, 2017.
Indian rescuers remove the body of a victim after a landslide along a highway at Kotrupi on August 13, 2017.PHOTO: AFP
Rescue personnel use heavy machinery to clear a road while look for survivors at the side of a landslide along a highway roughly 200 kilometres (124 miles) from Himachal Pradesh state capital Shimla on Aug 12, 2017.
Rescue personnel use heavy machinery to clear a road while look for survivors at the side of a landslide along a highway roughly 200 kilometres (124 miles) from Himachal Pradesh state capital Shimla on Aug 12, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

SHIMLA, INDIA (REUTERS/AFP) - A massive landslide caused by a cloudburst swept two buses off the road into a gorge in India's northern Himachal Pradesh state , killing more than 40 people, an official said.

Rescuers recovered 47 dead bodies on Sunday (Aug 13) before search operations were called off. No other passengers were known to be missing, Krishan Kumar, a public relations officer at the National Disaster Response Force, told Reuters.

"We will do a confirmatory search tomorrow morning," Kumar said. "But reports suggest all the bodies have been recovered."

The incident happened in the Mandi district, 431 km north of New Delhi on early Sunday morning, local media reported.

The coaches had stopped for a tea break around midnight Saturday in Himachal Pradesh when tonnes of rock and mud swept away an entire stretch of highway into a deep gorge roughly 200km from the state capital Shimla.

Rescue teams reached the scene but struggled in the dark and steep terrain, with the army later joining the search.

Sandeep Kadam, a senior official at the scene, said: "The other bus has been swept away, 800 metres down the steep hillside. We are not sure how many people were in this bus," he told AFP.

Some houses and slum dwellings were also destroyed in the landslide, which followed days of heavy rain in the Himalayan region.

Landslides are common in India, especially during monsoon months when heavy rain loosens steep hillsides.

At least five people were killed last month in a mudslide in remote Arunachal Pradesh state along the border with China.

Hundreds have died across India in torrential rain, floods and landslides since the onset of the wet season in April.