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Not cloudburst but choked water channel behind Shimla temple slide that killed 20

2024 3largeimg 255881460Shimla: The fatal landslide that killed 20 persons at Shiv Bawdi in the Summer Hill area on August 14 last year wasn’t caused by a cloudburst, but due to a choked underground water channel and incessant rain, a recent research has revealed.

The research, carried out by Mahesh Sharma, assistant professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University Institute of Technology (UIT), HP University, and others, stated when the pressure of the trapped underground water on the slope increased beyond a limit, water flushed out in an instant and caused the landslide. The research paper has been published in a reputed German journal, “Landslides”. The co-authors are Suvam Das, Anindya Pain and Debi Prasanna Kanungo of the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee, and Shantanu Sarkar of Uttarakhand Landslide Mitigation and Management Centre. The landslide was widely believed to have been triggered by a cloudburst just outside the premises of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies.

Sharma said the research team accessed satellite images of a European space agency to gauge what was happening at the site in the days leading to the fateful morning of August 14, when the landslide led to the collapse of the temple.

From the satellite images, the research team found that the land had been subsiding at the site for four-five days prior to the incident. “We also deduced that the underground water channel to the temple had got blocked a few days before the incident. Following this, water started getting accumulated at one point, probably somewhere above the road heading to Summer Hill. With continuing rainfall, the pore water pressure kept increasing, and eventually flushed out on the morning of August 14,” said Sharma.

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