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Sikkim Landslides: 9 Dead and Over 1,200 Tourists Stranded

On June 13, 2024, the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim was hit by a series of landslides and flooding due to heavy rainfall, resulting in the loss of at least ten lives and leaving approximately 2,400 tourists stranded. This calamity also extended to Nepal’s Koshi province, where additional fatalities were reported.

Sikkim Landslides: 9 Dead and Over 1,200 Tourists Stranded

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The Himalayan regions of Sikkim in India and Koshi province in Nepal experienced downpours leading to flooding and landslides.

In Sikkim, the continuous rainfall lasted for over 36 hours. Six people were reported dead in Sikkim, while four individuals lost their lives in a landslide in Nepal. In addition to human casualties, there was damage to infrastructure, including roads, bridges and houses.

The heavy rainfall affected infrastructure. Critical damage was reported to roads and bridges, making transportation and rescue efforts challenging.

Approximately 2,400 tourists including both domestic and foreign visitors found themselves stranded in various locations across Sikkim due to landslides blocking key roads and destroying bridges.

Hem Kumar Chettri, a district magistrate in Sikkim confirmed the casualties and damage to property. Efforts were underway to recover bodies and provide support to affected families.

Authorities quickly moved to ensure the safety of stranded tourists. Hotels were urged to accommodate guests until the weather improved and roads could be cleared. Officials advised tourists to remain indoors and avoid venturing out until it was safe to travel.

State disaster response teams were deployed to clear debris from roads and restore connectivity. The extent of the damage indicated that it would take at least a week to re-establish road links.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned of intense rainfall spells in the region, complicating rescue and repair efforts.

The flooding also affected parts of West Bengal, where uprooted trees and damaged buildings were reported.

The Teesta River’s water levels rose, posing threats to low-lying areas. The region has a history of extreme weather events.

In 2023, Sikkim experienced a glacial lake outburst flood that resulted in the collapse of the Teesta III hydroelectric dam leading to the deaths of nearly 50 people.

North Sikkim, particularly Mangan district and parts of South Sikkim are the worst affected. Landslides have also caused disruptions in West Sikkim and other parts of the state.

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Approximately 1,200 tourists including 15 foreign nationals from Thailand, Nepal and Bangladesh, are stranded in the Lachung area of Mangan district.

The government is coordinating with the central government to airlift the stranded tourists. Alternative routes are also being explored to facilitate evacuation by road.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for North Sikkim, predicting continued heavy rainfall and further landslides.

Areas such as Yuksom in West Sikkim and Namthang in South Sikkim received rainfall, measuring 70 mm and 60 mm respectively over 24 hours.

Landslides have blocked major roads including the National Highway 10, disrupting connectivity and hampering rescue efforts.

The newly constructed Bailey bridge at Sangkalang has collapsed and other bridges have been damaged or destroyed.

Many areas in North Sikkim are experiencing power outages due to damaged infrastructure. Communication lines have been severed, making it difficult to coordinate rescue and relief operations.

Houses have been flooded or damaged and electric poles have been swept away. The extent of property damage is huge affecting both residential and commercial areas.

Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang has held emergency meetings to assess the situation and coordinate relief efforts.

The meetings have focused on restoring normalcy, ensuring the safety of residents and tourists and expediting infrastructure repairs.

Relief camps have been set up in areas like Pakshep to provide shelter and support to affected individuals. Authorities have confirmed that there are sufficient food and ration supplies to cater to the stranded tourists and residents.

A helpline has been set up to assist people in reporting disasters and seeking help during the monsoon season.

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