Gangtok/Siliguri, Sep 23
Braving rains and foul weather, rescuers from the Army and paramilitary forces rummaged through the debris and recovered nine bodies so far as the authorities estimated at least 24 people feared killed as mudslides swept through the villages following flash floods in Chungthang, about 95 kms north of Sikkim capital.
Disaster management secretary L R Baduria today said, “Nine bodies have been recovered so far,” and added of the nine victims, five were from General Reserved Engineering Force (GREF) and the rest were civilians.
Among the missing people are mainly from Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and some Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel, who had been posted at the hostile terrain of Chungthang region for call of the national duty. Chungthang, a military strategic important place, is at an altitude of 1,700 meters (5,600 ft), in north Sikkim and is also considered a holy place for both the Buddhists and Sikhs. It is said Sikh saith Guru Nanak had blessed the people of the area during his journey towards Gurudongmar Lake, bordering then Sikkim and Tibet ( now India and China).
Mr Bhaduria said an entire BRO camp at Rangma, where at least 12 road-menders had been camping, washed away in Friday/Saturday’s deluge following torrents and swelling of Lachen River. The rescue operations, specially that by helicopters in evacuation, have been hampered owing to continuous rains and foul weather. Road link between Mangan, headquarters of north district, and Chungthang, and Mangan and Gangtok severed due to washing away of major chunk of metal roads.
Weathermen said the torrential rains have been pounding the areas since September 19 causing overflowing of local rivers and damaging bridges or improvised links. Temporary houses at road sides along the Chungthang have been washed away.
Vehicles with relief materials from Gangtok have been stranded as landslides broke down the metal roads completely. Army’s engineering section has been engaged in restoring power, telephone and water supply system so as to facilitate rescue operations.
Altogether 39 marooned people, including 12 children, who were stranded between the branches of the Lohit River at Tezu in Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh since last four days were rescued by Indian Air Force yesterday. All the rescued were shifted to relief camp and to their respective relatives, according to official sources here today.
However, 75 people were also rescued by the administration at Sunpura with the help of country-boat and sheltered them at relief camp. Seeing the grim situation of flood in the district, additional stock of food grains was dispatched to Sunpura.
A high level state government team headed by WRD Minister
Newlai Tingkhatra including PWD Minister Chowna Mein, and
other senior government officials conducted aerial survey of
Bordumsa subdivision in Changlang district, Namsai circle
and Tezu in Lohit to take stock of the present situation of
flood ravaged areas yesterday.reasoned, sources added.