Sikkim tragedy: The search operations to find missing 142 people in Sikkim continued on Saturday as the death count rose to 26 in the devastating flash flood in the Himalayan state. According to officials, 26 bodies, including those of seven Armymen, have been recovered so far from the slush and debris of the flash flood in the Teesta River. The search for the remaining missing soldiers is continuing both in Sikkim and the northern parts of West Bengal through which the Teesta flows, the officials said. The NH-10, considered the lifeline of the state, sustained extensive damage at several places.
Thee Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) in its latest bulletin said a total of 16 people, including seven Armymen, died in Pakyong district, while six people died in Gangtok and four people lost their lives in the Mangan district.
Massive rescue operations underway
According to officials, the relief teams, so far, rescued 2,413 people from different locations in the flood-hit areas. They said 6,875 people are taking shelter in 22 relief camps set up across the state.
What triggered devastating flash floods
A horrific cloudburst in the early hours of Wednesday triggered a flash flood which affected over 25,000 people, damaged more than 1,200 houses and washed away 13 bridges. The mamoth slush and debris reduced the picturesque Himalayan state to a ruined city. The flash flood in the Teesta river, triggered by a cloudburst in Lhonak Lake, caused accumulation of a huge quantity of water, which turned towards Chungthang dam, destroying the power infrastructure before moving downstream in spate, flooding towns and villages.
The flood destroyed 13 bridges in the state, with eight bridges getting washed away in Mangan district alone. Three bridges were destroyed in Gangtok and two in Namchi.
The state government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh for the families of the deceased and an immediate relief of Rs 2,000 each for all those taking shelter in the camps.
Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said, "There have been damage worth thousands of crores of rupees. We cannot give exact details about the damage. It will be revealed once a committee is formed and completes its analysis. Our first priority is to save those who are stranded and provide them immediate relief."
"Road connectivity between the districts has been cut off and bridges have been washed away. Communication in North Sikkim has been severely affected," he added.
23 Army personnel went missing from Bardang. The bodies of seven Armymen have been recovered from different areas downstream of Teesta.
Centre approves the release of Rs 44.8 crore
Home Minister Shah has approved the release of Rs 44.8 crore as an advance amount from the central share of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to provide relief to the affected people.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also formed an Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT), which will visit the affected areas of Sikkim soon to make an assessment of the damage caused due to a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF), cloudburst and flash floods, according to an official statement.
26 students from Meghalaya stranded in Sikkim, evacuated: Official
Twenty-six students from Meghalaya stranded in flash flood-hit Sikkim have been successfully evacuated and they are on their way to Shillong, an official said on Saturday. These 26 students left Majitar in Sikkim in five vehicles and they reached Siliguri in West Bengal around Friday midnight, the official involved in the rescue operation said.
"A bus was then arranged for their transport from Siliguri to Shillong on Friday night itself," he said.
To help those stranded in Sikkim, the Meghalaya government activated a helpline number 1800 345 3644, the official said.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said on X, "A bus with 26 students from Meghalaya left Majitar in Sikkim via Siliguri last evening, has crossed Kokrajhar and is on its way to Shillong.
Glad to see our students safe."
He said the Meghalaya students studying in Sikkim had contacted him for support to return back home due to the current situation in Sikkim.
(With PTI inputs)