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North East

Sikkim: 9 dead, 1,200 tourists stranded for last three days due to landslides

Gangtok, June 14: Sikkim Chief Secretary Vijay Bhushan Pathak on Friday said nine persons had died in the last three days due to two landslides in the state. More than 1,200 tourists were also stranded in Mangan district of the state.
“In the past three days, Sikkim has witnessed two natural calamities: a landslide in Namchi district in which three persons lost their lives, and similarly, a landslide on the intervening nights of June 12 and 13 in Mangan district in which six persons lost their lives,” the Chief Secretary said in a press conference on Friday.
“It is expected that around 1,200-1,400 tourists are struck in Mangan district in Sikkim. The restoration of road communication may take five to seven days, ” he added.
Pathak said they had sent a requisition for Air Force helicopters for the evacuation of tourists. “We have sent the requisition for Air Force helicopters on behalf of the Sikkim government. As soon as the weather becomes suitable for flying, the evacuation of tourists will start,” he said.
“Gratuitous relief is being given to the families of deceased . For those who are severely injured, their treatment is going on in hospitals,” the Chief Secretary added.
Meanwhile, the office of the chief secretary has already initiated talks with the Centre for airlifting of all the tourists, depending on the weather conditions, Sikkim Tourism & Civil Aviation Department’s Principal Secretary C S Rao said in a statement.
Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang chaired a high-level meeting in Mintokgang to take stock of the situation after landslides triggered by heavy rain impacted the Himalayan state severely, damaging properties and disrupting road connectivity, power and food supplies, and mobile networks in several areas.
“As per the ground report, around 1,200 domestic and 15 foreign tourists (Thailand:2, Nepal:3, Bangladesh:10) are stranded in Lachung, Mangan district due to road blockages caused by heavy rainfall and landslides,” Rao said in the statement.
The stranded tourists are all safe and sound, and the local authorities have requested them to stay put in their respective places and avoid taking risks, he said.
There is adequate stock of food supplies and rations to cater to all the stranded tourists, the official said.
If required, the tourists will be evacuated by road, and the department is “working in close coordination with the district administration, police and tourism officials in Mangan” along with the local tourism stakeholders for the safe evacuation of those stranded there, he said.
He assured the tourists of extending all possible support and assistance to them during this period of distress due to natural calamity.
Only Lachung is cut off from the rest of the state and all other parts of Sikkim are open and safe for travel, Rao said.
Landslides blocked stretches of roads and several houses were inundated or damaged due to heavy rain in the district, while electricity poles were swept away, another official said.
The chief minister’s meeting was “crucial for strategising and coordinating our response to restore normalcy and ensure the safety and well-being of our residents”, he said.
During the meeting, officials concerned provided details on the extent of damages on critical roads and the immediate challenges for affected people.
They apprised the chief minister of the damaged infrastructure, especially roads and bridges vital for transportation, and relief operations.
They also briefed the CM about immediate relief measures, including the deployment of emergency service personnel, and the supplies of essential commodities.
Tamang directed the officials to monitor the situation closely and expedite the process of reestablishing connectivity and relief efforts.
He also urged them to carry out a continuous assessment of the affected areas to identify the most critical issues and prioritise the response.
The chief minister also appealed to the public to stay alert, follow safety guidelines and cooperate with the authorities in order to overcome this calamity and restore normalcy in the state.
Incessant rain triggered landslides at several places in Mangan district on Thursday, and a newly-constructed bailey bridge at Sangkalang collapsed leaving a large number of tourists stranded in North Sikkim. A bamboo bridge has been destroyed too, the officials said.
The bailey bridge at Sangkalang was constructed after the flash flood in the Teesra river in October last year.
According to the local officials, efforts were underway to construct a bridge at Phidang to restore connectivity there. (ANI/PTI)