At least 50 people are feared dead after two Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses washed away in a massive landslide in Kotroopi area of Mandi district on Thursday.
One of the buses was on its way to Chamba from Manali, while the other one was on its way to Katra in Jammu from Manali.
Confirming the development, Himachal Pradesh Transport Minister G S Bali said that around 50 people are feared to have been away in the incident.
The landslide occurred around midnight on the Mandi-Pathankot national highway burying the two buses. A search and rescue operation is on involving local authorities and the Indian Army. The National Disaster Response Force has been summoned.
The disaster spot is some 220 km from the state capital.
According to eyewitnesses, the two buses were stationed at a kiosk located on the highway for refreshments when the disaster occurred.
Mandi Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kadam told reporters that the death toll is likely to increase.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh left from Shimla by road as bad weather did not permit him to take the aerial route to Mandi. He will visit the accident site and review the situation.