Nine people have died and dozens more are feared trapped after an ancient Hindu temple collapsed in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh due to heavy rains.

Rescue operations are underway after the temple in the popular tourist town of Shimla was hit by a landslide.

 

Himachal Pradesh has received heavy rain over the past few days, triggering floods and landslides.

 

Twenty-one people have died in the past 24 hours in rain-related incidents.

 

The state’s chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who is at the site of the landslide, told reporters that around 20-25 people may be trapped under the debris.

 

Thousands of tourists visit the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, especially its capital Shimla, around the year to enjoy its cool weather and picturesque scenery.

 

But the state has been experiencing heavy rains during the monsoon season, leading to flooding, landslides and cloudbursts which cause further damage.

 

Videos shared on social media over the past few days show vehicles and buildings being swept away by gushing rivers, trees falling on cars and tourists stranded due to road closures.

 

Hours before the temple collapsed, seven people were reported dead after a cloudburst hit some houses in Solan district. Cloudbursts have also been reported in Mandi district.

 

Mr Sukhu has appealed to people in the state to stay indoors due to the rains.

 

Incessant rains have also been battering the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand for the past couple of days. The hill state is home to many revered Hindu shrines and sees a large number of tourists around the year.

 

On Monday, officials said that the Char Dham Yatra – a pilgrimage to the four holiest sites for Hindus in the state – has been suspended for two days due to the rains.

 

Videos shared on social media showed huge boulders blocking the path to the Kedarnath temple, which is part of the Yatra.

 

Environmentalists have frequently raised concerns over the infrastructural changes made to accommodate an influx of tourists in India’s Himalayan states. They say that this could cause havoc in these ecologically fragile regions, especially when combined with extreme weather events.

Source:bbc.com

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