Many missing as cloudburst wreaks havoc in Sikkim

Many missing as cloudburst wreaks havoc in Sikkim
Many missing as cloudburst wreaks havoc in Sikkim

At least eight people died and 69 others, including 22 army personnel, went missing on October 4 after a cloudburst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim triggered a flash flood in the Teesta River basin, officials said.

“Due to a sudden cloud burst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim, a flash flood occurred in the Teesta River in Lachen Valley. Twenty-three personnel have been reported missing and 41 vehicles are reported submerged under the slush. Search operations are underway,” a Defence spokesperson said in Kolkata.

Officials said that three of the dead were washed up in north Bengal.

The flood in Sikkim that started around 1.30 am was made worse by the release of water from Chungthang dam, the officials said.

“Five bodies have been recovered from Golitar and Singtam region,” Gangtok sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Mahendra Chettri said.

Another official said besides the 22 army personnel, 47 civilians were also missing, while 166 people have so far been rescued, including an armyman.

“The health condition of the rescued soldier is stable,” Defence Spokesperson Lt Col Mahendra Rawat said.

The Sikkim government said the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) in portions of Lhonak Lake of North Sikkim’s Mangan district led to the rise of water levels with very high velocities downstream along the Teesta River Basin in the early hours of October 4. This has caused severe damage in Mangan, Gangtok, Pakyong, and Namchi districts.

The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) team from the State Home Guard and Civil Defence, Gangtok, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Pakyong have already been deployed in the affected areas.

Giving details of the crisis, the state government said in Mangan district, Chungthang was cut off due to the collapse of the Toong Bridge, while the Phidang Bridge has also given way. “Four pucca houses at Phidang and two in Dikchu were washed away,” it said.

Houses along the river line were in danger, and two GREF labourers were reported missing at Sangkhalang. One person was missing from Phidang.

Prime minister Narendra Modi spoke to chief minister Prem Singh Tamang on October 4 to take stock of the situation in the state, and assured him of all possible support.

“Spoke to Sikkim CM Shri @PSTamangGolay and took stock of the situation in the wake of the unfortunate natural calamity in parts of the state. Assured all possible support in addressing the challenge. I pray for the safety and well-being of all those affected,” Modi said on X.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh also prayed for the well-being of the missing army personnel.

The Sikkim government, in a notification, said the natural calamity has been declared as a disaster.

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