At least 8 people were killed and 25 others were missing as a cloudburst hit Singhali area early Friday morning, flattening homes in over seven villages and leaving many residents trapped in the debris. "We have recovered few bodies from Singhali area while some have been found from Thal village. The search for others is on by rescue parties consisting of Army and paramilitary personnel," Pithoragarh District Magistrate H C Semwal said.
The cloudburst brought over 100 mm rains in two hours in a region of 50 sq km, affecting several villages. "25 persons, missing from over seven villages of Singhali area in Didiihat sub division of the district, are being traced with the help of ITBP, SSB and Pithoragarh district police," said RS Rana, the district disaster management officer who reached the spot soon after the disaster occurred.
According to disaster management office sources, the cloudburst occurred in the villages of Singhali, Patthakot, Ogla and Thal. "The villages are buried under heavy debris and people are trapped. The rescuers are trying their best to locate and save them," Rana said.
Expressing grief over the loss of lives, Chief Minister Harish Rawat announced a compensation of Rs two lakh each to families of the victims. Rawat said he was personally monitoring the situation and added that disaster management teams and security personnel have already been asked to reach the sites to carry out rescue work and ensure safety of locals.
"We are sad to know about the deaths. I am personally monitoring the situation and Chief Secretary too is keeping a tab...we will give them (kin of victims) immediate compensation of Rs two lakh as per norms," he said.