Heavy rains and flash flooding in Sikkim have damaged infrastructure worth 10 billion rupees ($120 million)
At least 40 people have died after a glacial lake in northeast India’s Sikkim state burst its banks and triggered flash floods in the Teesta River, a senior government official told RT on Friday, adding that efforts are ongoing to track down at least 150 more people believed to be missing.
“In Sikkim, 22 people are confirmed dead and 150 more are reported missing,” Bikash Basnet, the press secretary to the state’s chief minister, Prem Singh Tamang, said, adding that 22 Indian army servicemen are among the missing.
“Earlier, 23 army men were reported to be missing, but we have managed to rescue one of them – he was alive and we have shifted him to a hospital for medical attention.”
The official added that the “identification of the deceased” is underway. “So far, we have discovered that many of those who died are either factory workers or laborers who were living near the river basin.”
Another 22 bodies that had been washed away were recovered in the downstream state of West Bengal, Reuters reported, citing official sources.
According to India’s National Disaster Management Authority, the possible cause of the flash flood in Sikkim could be a combination of “excess rainfall” and flooding caused by a glacial lake bursting its banks at South Lhonak Lake in the state’s remote northwestern region.
Around 3,000 tourists who were visiting the state’s northern areas are stuck owing to the incessant rainfall, according to Basnet. “We have tried to land choppers to rescue tourists from the Lachung, Lachen and Chungthang towns in the Mangan district, but were not able to do so because of inclement weather,” he said, adding that the state government is collaborating with the Indian army and air force on these missions.
So far, emergency teams have managed to rescue over 1,000 people, most of whom have been put up in relief camps where they are receiving medical attention.
The damage, the official said, is “huge,” with factories, workshops, and homes washed away by the flash floods. “We also lost seven major bridges linking the districts of Sikkim. Furthermore, the Chungthang dam, built at a cost of millions of dollars, has also been completely destroyed,” he said.
Talking to the news agency PTI, the chief minister of Sikkim said that the damage amounts to at least 10 billion rupees ($120 million). Exact details, he said, will be revealed “once a committee is formed and it completes its analysis.” He also said that he had gotten in touch with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Draupadi Murmu to discuss the situation.
October 06, 2023 at 04:00PM