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9 Killed as Landslide Destroys Temple in Northern India

At least nine people were killed inside a Himalayan temple that collapsed on Monday after heavy rains set off landslides and flash floods, the latest in a series of disasters this monsoon season that have brought death and ruin to many parts of South Asia.

Rescue workers were struggling to pull bodies from the mud surrounding the temple, which was hit by a landslide in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

Hira Lal Ghezta, an official at the site of the landslide, said those inside the Hindu temple when it collapsed included worshipers, priests and construction workers. He said that about 250 personnel from the Indian army, police and disaster force were leading rescue operations.

“We fear at least 25 people are trapped under the debris, and we have already retrieved six bodies,” he said. “We suspect it was a cloudburst which brought upon the landslide leading to collapse of the temple.”

So far, at least 18 people have been killed in landslides and other weather-related events in recent days in Himachal Pradesh, with dozens still missing, officials said. Throughout the state, several building collapses killed nine others, including a mother and child.

This year, the monsoon season, when South Asia receives most of its annual rainfall, has left behind a trail of deadly wreckage from Indian states straddling the Himalayas to countries including Bangladesh and Nepal.

Scientists say that while climate change is causing more intense and erratic seasonal rainfall, extreme heat is melting glaciers in the Himalayas, which has brought deadly flash floods to parts of South Asia in recent years.

Economically disadvantaged countries in the region, which face greater risk from climate change and have contributed least to it, are also struggling to mitigate the crises.

A rail track was suspended over the path of a mudslide near Shimla, India, in Himachal Pradesh on Monday. More than 250 people have been killed in the state this monsoon season.Credit…Pradeep Kumar/Associated Press

In Bangladesh, more than 50 people were killed and about one million people were affected this month by two weeks of torrential rains causing floods and landslides. Many districts in the southeast of the country are still reeling from power outages due to damaged electrical poles, fields of crops are marooned and roads are submerged.

On Sunday night, about 40 homes were washed away in Mustang, a remote district in northern Nepal, and sheets of rain there destroyed roads, suspension bridges and communication to several mountainous districts.

“Altogether, 67 people have died in monsoon-related disasters, whereas 31 are still missing since monsoon onset on June 14,” said Shanti Mahat, an officer at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority in Nepal.

In India, the heavy rainfall and flash floods have killed hundreds and destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of property.

So far this season, the hardest-hit area has been Himachal Pradesh, where, as of Saturday at least 257 people have died because of landslides and flash floods.

The Indian Meteorological Department said on Monday that parts of Himachal Pradesh had received as much as 10.75 inches of rain in 24 hours. On Monday, the authorities once again shut down schools, and many people in harm’s way were being relocated to shelters.

Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, said around 20 to 25 people were still trapped under the debris of the landslide at the temple, and that he was getting reports of landslides ravaging different parts of his state.

“From the last 48 hours, many people have died, and I appeal to people to stay indoors and not to venture out,” Mr. Sukhu said.

Bhadra Sharma contributed reporting from Kathmandu, Nepal, and Saif Hasnat from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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