Sikkim Ravaged by Heavy Rains and Landslides: Indian Army Rescues Stranded Tourists
Gangtok: Multiple landslides induced by heavy rainfall have damaged over a hundred houses in West Sikkim district. The incessant rain has caused extensive damage to infrastructure and property in the state. An orange alert has been sounded for heavy rain and thunderstorms in northeast India for the next three days.
In a courageous and swift action, Indian Army personnel rescued nearly 300 stranded tourists in Sikkim on June 18. Tourists were stranded at Chungthang, North Sikkim due to inclement weather, which led to landslides and flash floods. Earlier on June 16, the Trishakti Corps of the Indian Army extended assistance to about 3500 tourists who were stranded at Chungthang in North Sikkim.
According to reports, the road connecting Uttarey to Sopakha, which includes two bridges, was completely swept away. Nearby trout fish and poultry farms were also washed away. Similarly, the road connecting Dentam with Pelling and Gyalshing was completely washed away by River Kalaz. One kaccha house, one cement building, two crematory sheds, and an excavator were also swept away by the rising water level of the river.
In Sombaria, a house belonging to Dawa Sangay Sherpa at Lower Okhrey was on the verge of collapsing due to the incessant rainfall. All the occupants have been shifted to a safer location. No casualties have been reported so far.
The increase in the volume of River Ramam has damaged all the temporary bridges at border areas connecting West Bengal. Heavy rains hit Lachen, Lachung, and Chungthang valleys on Friday, leading to the road from the North Sikkim district headquarters of Mangan to Chungthang being blocked at Pegong Supply Khola, disrupting traffic.
During the rescue operation, Indian Army provided tourists with food, a place to rest, and medical aid. In a special effort, Indian Army personnel were seen rescuing a person who fell into a gorge unconsciously.
The North Sikkim District Collector (DC) Hem Kumar Chettri on Sunday said that no fresh permits will be issued to tourists to visit the picturesque district in view of weather-related vagaries and restoration works underway for roads damaged extensively due to landslides, even as all 2,464 stranded tourists have been rescued.
All tourists and 60 students of Namchi College have left for their respective destinations by vehicles arranged by the authorities, the North Sikkim DC said.
He thanked the BRO, GREF, ITBP, Army, and district officials for the successful evacuation of the tourists.
"We have decided not to issue fresh permits to the tourists to visit North Sikkim for the time being due to the restoration of roads underway between Mangan and Chungthang," he told PTI over the phone.
"Our immediate priority is to restore roads damaged due to landslides and heavy rains, and once the road connectivity is restored, then we will allow the tourists to come," Chettri said.
The Indian Army's proactive involvement in rescue operations showcases their readiness and determination to safeguard lives and restore normalcy in the face of natural disasters. Their tireless efforts, combined with the collective response from various organizations, have instilled hope and reassurance among the affected population.
As the situation unfolds, authorities and relief organizations continue to work together to ensure the well-being of the affected population. The Indian Army's presence and support have been vital in restoring normalcy and providing comfort to those impacted by the devastating natural events in Sikkim.