Kolkata: At least 30 people were reported missing in flash floods triggered by a glacial lake outburst in north Sikkim late on Tuesday night.
A senior official of the Central Water Commission (CWC) said the outburst took place in the Lhonak lake in north Sikkim.
“The exact number of people who have gone missing is still not confirmed. We are gathering details. As of now we have confirmed reports of seven people going missing,” Prabhakar Rai, director of Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority said.
A statement issued by the army said aid that at least 23 army personnel were missing too.
“Some army establishments located in the Lachen Valley have been affected. At least 23 personnel have been reported missing and some vehicles are reported submerged under the slush. Vehicles parked at Bardang near Singtam were affected,” said the statement.
Officials said that three districts in Sikkim – Mangan (north Sikkim), Pakyong and Gangtok (east Sikkim) have been affected. Mangan was the worst hit. Officials also said that the water level in the River Teesta was expected to cross the danger mark within a few hours. A flood alert was issued for some districts in north Bengal and Bangladesh.
“At around 10 pm on Tuesday we received information that the water level at Lachen was rising very fast. There was an army establishment in the area,” said Rai.
The India Meteorological Department’s regional office in Gangtok said the flash floods weren’t caused by a cloud burst. A cloud burst takes place when a small area receives at least 100 mm of rain within an hour.
“The maximum rain received in north Sikkim in the last 24 hours was 39 mm. So, we can’t say it was a cloud burst,” said an IMD official.
Apart from several personnel going missing in the flash flood, at least six bridges have also been washed away between Chungthang and Rangpo. National High 10 which is considered the lifeline of Sikkim and runs parallel to the river Teesta in many places was also badly hit, an official said.
“North Sikkim has been cut off and roads have been badly hit. Many parts have become inaccessible,” said the official.
Heavy rainfall in adjoining West Bengal
Meanwhile, a low pressure over Jharkhand and an associated cyclonic circulation triggered heavy rain in West Bengal. The IMD has forecast enhanced rainfall activity in the eastern state till Thursday.
The heavy rain has triggered a flood-like situation in at least seven districts including Birbhum, Bankura, West Burdwan, East Burdwan, West Midnapore, Hooghly and Howrah,” said a state government official.
“More than 1000 people have been evacuated in Bankura district and shifted to safer places. At least 35 relief camps have been set up in Bankura and Purulia districts. Relief materials such as tarpaulin, dry food, drinking water and medicines have been kept ready. We are keeping a close watch,” said a top official of the state’s disaster management and civil defence department. NDTV