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2 packed buses swept away in India landslide; at least 45 bodies recovered

Heavy machinery removes debris as rescue personnel search for survivors and bodies of victims after a landslide along a highway at Kotrupi, some 200 kilometers from Himachal Pradesh state capital Shimla on Sunday. (AFP)
Army soldiers and rescue workers search for bodies of landslide victims even as they try to pull out two buses that were covered in mud after a landslide triggered by heavy monsoon rain in Urla village, Himachal Pradesh state, India, on Sunday. (AP Photo/Shailesh Bhatnagar)

SHIMLA, INDIA: A massive landslide in mountainous northern India swept two packed passenger buses off a hillside Sunday into a deep gorge, killing 45 people, an official said.
“Forty-five bodies have been found,” said Sandeep Kadam, a senior official of Himachal Pradesh state where the accident occurred.
The coaches had stopped for a tea break around midnight Saturday in Himachal Pradesh when tons of rock and mud swept away an entire stretch of highway roughly 200 kilometers (124 miles) 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.
“The other bus has been swept away, 800 meters down the steep hillside. We are not sure how many people were in this bus,” Kadam 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.