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43 missing in flash flood triggered by cloudburst in Sikkim, rescue ops underway

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Gangtok (Sikkim) | October 4, 2023 4:20:18 PM IST
As many as 43 people, including army soldiers and civilians, have been reported missing after South Lhonak Lake, situated in North West Sikkim experienced a glacial lake outburst and triggered flash floods due to incessant rainfall in the region.

Around 3,000-4,000 people were evacuated last night in and around Rangpo and 5 relief camps were also opened in the district, said an official.

According to Sikkim District Magistrate, Tashi Chopel, "A lot of buildings and vehicles have been damaged by sludge. There are also reports of loss of lives, with around 20 people missing. We are also hearing about 23 casualties in the army, which needs to be confirmed with them. 3000-4000 people were evacuated last night in and around Rangpo. We have opened 5 relief camps in the district."

The heavy downpour that triggered the lake outburst reportedly damaged over 150 houses in the Industrial Belt (IBM) at Rangpo, on the banks of river Teesta.

Following the devastation, an unidentified body was also discovered on Wednesday afternoon in the IBM area. In most of the houses, the lower two floors have been submerged in sediments and made redundant, said the official.

Speaking to the media, Pakyong District Magistrate Tashi Chopel informed, "There have been some loss of lives while over 150 houses have been damaged in the IBM area in Rangpo. If we take the stretch between Singtam and Rangpo along NH 10 which falls under Pakyong district, around 150-200 houses could have been damaged by the flash flood".

The District Magistrate further informed that while industries ranging from pharmaceutical to manufacturing units along the banks of the River Teesta have been affected, no reports of damages have been received by the Pakyong District Magistrate.

Educational institutions Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology in Majhitar and Advanced Technical Training Centre in Bardang between Singtam and Rangpo also reported of flash flood entering the premises, with the first floors being inundated, informed Pakyong District Authorities.

The students in SMIT were reported to be safe, while students from ATTC have been given permission to go to their homes. There are still some people stuck in the houses in IBM who are now being evacuated by fire services and NDRF.

Rangpo has five relief camps which include the Chanatar government school, the hall of Sikkim distilleries, the Tourism Information Centre hall, the housing complex at Majhigaon, and the Mining Government school hall.

Councillors from Rangpo Nagar Panchayat along with civil defence have been overseeing the relief camps. Around 300-400 people have reached relief camps so far, by evening all the people from damaged houses will be taken to relief camps, informed Pakyong District Authorities.

The South Lhonak Lake, situated in North West Sikkim experienced a glacial lake outburst and triggered flash floods due to incessant rainfall in the region on Wednesday morning. Areas near River Teesta have been put on high alert, said an official.

According to the Legislator of Tumin-Lingee Assembly constituency, Sikkim, Ugyen Tshering Gyatso Bhutia, "The South Lhonak lake situated in North West Sikkim experienced an outburst in the early hours of Wednesday morning due to incessant monsoon rainfall. Areas near River Teesta were put on high alert."

Giving information about the outburst, the Gangtok District Administration said, "The flash flood made its way through River Teesta sweeping Indreni Bridge in Singtam town, some 30 kilometres from Gangtok. A connecting bridge of the Balutar hamlet was also swept away around 4 am."

In the wake of the devastation caused by a cloud burst in Sikkim, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Dilli Ram Thapa on Wednesday urged the people of the state to stand together in difficult times and help each other to overcome the destruction.

"Several properties have been damaged. We cannot even estimate right now how much devastation has taken place. I request all institutions to support Sikkim," said Thapa adding, "I took stock of the situation in the morning and will do it again. Rescue operations are underway," he assured.

"Today a big situation has arisen in front of the people of Sikkim. I request everyone, all the people of Sikkim to stand together in these times and help each other out of this destruction," added the Sikkim BJP chief.

On Wednesday, South Lhonak Lake, situated in North West Sikkim witnessed a glacial lake outburst that triggered flash floods accompanied by incessant rainfall in the region. Officials on Wednesday sounded alert for areas near River Teesta.

The flowing flash flood made its way through River Teesta sweeping Indreni Bridge in Singtam town, some 30 kilometres from Gangtok informed Gangtok District Administration. Another connecting bridge of Balutar hamlet was also swept away around 4 am.

As per information from Mangan District Administration, Chungthang town, some 90 kilometres north of Gangtok, houses the Teesta Stage 3 Dam. Upon high alert, the local residents have been evacuated from the area.

"Similarly, the Teesta Stage 5 dam at Dikchu in Mangan district was opened up for water disbursement after a high alert. It is reported that the control room of the dam has been severely damaged," they informed.

Many homes near the River Teesta, situated in Gangtok's Singtam have been evacuated. Additionally, temporary relief facilities have been established in the town's Singtam Senior Secondary School, added officials. (ANI)

 
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