Flash Floods Devastate Sikkim, Leaving 19 Dead and Thousands Stranded
Written by Sanjay Kumar
Sikkim, India – In a tragic turn of events, at least 19 people, including six soldiers, have lost their lives in flash floods that have struck the picturesque state of Sikkim. An additional 103 people, including 16 soldiers, are still missing, and over 3,000 tourists find themselves stranded amidst the chaos. Rescue and relief operations are in full swing as authorities grapple to mitigate the ongoing crisis.
Here are the key developments in this unfolding disaster:
Fresh Alert Issued: The Sikkim government has issued a fresh alert following a glacial lake burst threat. Tourists are urged to delay their travel plans due to the risk of explosives and ammunition washed away from an army camp during the recent flash floods. The Shako Cho lake near Lachen is at risk of bursting, prompting authorities to begin evacuating residents from the surrounding area.
Thousands Stranded: Approximately 3,000 people, including tourists, are stranded in the areas of Lachen and Lachung. Even those who traveled there on motorcycles, numbering 3,150, are now stuck due to the floods. Rescue efforts are being undertaken by the Army and Air Force, deploying helicopters for evacuation.
Glacial Lake Burst Triggers Devastation: Flash floods were triggered by a glacial lake burst in the upper reaches of Sikkim. This event led to a glacial lake outburst, releasing water from the Chungthang Dam and causing a significant rise in the water level of the Teesta River, resulting in widespread devastation across the state.
Casualties and Missing Persons: The flash floods have taken a severe toll, with fatalities reported in multiple districts. Mangan district has seen four deaths and 17 individuals missing, while Gangtok has recorded five deaths and 22 missing persons. Additionally, Pakyong district has reported ten casualties, including six soldiers, with 59 individuals still unaccounted for.
Army and Civilian Aid: The Army has launched extensive search operations to locate the 16 missing soldiers since the initial incident. Troops from the Trishakti Corps are providing essential medical aid and telephone connectivity to civilians and tourists stranded in the affected regions of Chungthang, Lachung, and Lachen in North Sikkim.
Hydropower Impact: The government-owned hydropower company NHPC is making efforts to swiftly reopen its hydropower plants. The Power Ministry has pledged to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the damage to hydropower projects in Sikkim once floodwaters recede. The Teesta-V hydropower station is currently out of service.
Infrastructure Damage: The flash floods on the night of October 3-4 have wreaked havoc on the region’s infrastructure. Eleven bridges have been submerged or washed away downstream of the Teesta-V hydropower station, with additional damage to water pipelines, sewage lines, and 277 houses across four districts.
NDRF on Standby: National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) platoons in North Sikkim are on standby, ready to evacuate local residents if necessary.
Unity in Crisis: Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang has called upon the administration, local authorities, organizations, and individuals to join forces in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation to address the immediate challenges posed by this calamity.
As the people of Sikkim grapple with the aftermath of this devastating natural disaster, rescue and relief efforts remain a top priority, with hopes for the safe recovery of those missing and the swift restoration of normalcy in the affected areas.
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