As many as 14 people died and 120 others, including 22 army personnel, went missing after flash floods wreaked havoc in Sikkim on Wednesday. According to officials, a cloudburst over Lhonak Lake led to the flash flood in the Teesta River basin which eventually turned into a fatal disaster. The flood in Sikkim that started around 1.30 am was made worse by the release of water from Chungthang dam, they added. They further stated that around 200 people have been rescued so far, including an army soldier.
Defence establishments, bridges affected
The release of water from the Chungthang dam led to a sudden increase in water levels up to 15-20 feet high downstream. Meanwhile, Defence officials said establishments along the valley have been affected. Earlier on Wednesday, A steel bridge at Singtam, also known as Indreni bridge, in Gangtok district has been completely washed away by Teesta river water. The 120-metre-cable suspension bridge is a very important route over the Teesta River.
CM urges people to remain vigilant
Following the disaster, Chief Minister PS Tamang visited Singtam to assess the damage caused by the flash flood in the Teesta River basin. He also held a meeting with senior officials at the Singtam Nagar Panchayat office and asked them to keep vigil. "Emergency services have been mobilized to the affected areas, and I personally visited Singtam to assess the damages and engage with the local community," he wrote on 'X' (formerly known as Twitter). The Chief Minister also urged all our citizens to remain vigilant and refrain from unnecessary travel during this critical time. "It is essential that we maintain composure and hope for a swift return to normalcy in our region," CM Tamang added.
Cabinet Secretary reviews situation
Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba also reviewed the relief and rescue measures of the Central agencies and the government of Sikkim. He emphasized that the evacuation of people stranded in the tunnel of Chungthang dam and tourists may be taken up on a priority basis. Gauba's directions came while chairing the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) meeting.
"Reviewing relief and rescue measures of the Central Agencies and Government of Sikkim in NCMC meeting, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba emphasized that the evacuation of people stranded in the tunnel of Chungthang dam and tourists may be taken up on priority basis," stated Cabinet Secretariat in a statement. The Cabinet Secretary further observed that additional teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) should be deployed and connectivity of road, telecom and power must be restored in the shortest possible time.
Relief and rescue measures underway
The Chief Secretary of Sikkim joined the meeting through video conferencing and apprised the Committee about the latest situation in the state. He also briefed the committee about the efforts of the state government in carrying out relief and rescue measures. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla informed the Committee that the situation is being monitored 24x7 by the Central Government at the highest level.
The NDRF has already deployed three teams and additional teams are on standby in Guwahati and Patna. An adequate number of teams and assets of the Army and Air Force are being deployed to assist the state in rescue and restoration efforts. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke to Sikkim CM Tamang to take stock of the situation in the state and assured him of all possible support. The Prime Minister also prayed for the safety and well-being of all those affected.
(With inputs from agencies)