Over 1,200 tourists stranded due to landslides rain in Sikkim; CM takes stock of situation


PTI, Jun 14, 2024, 8:52 PM IST

Credit: PTI

Gangtok: More than 1,200 tourists, including 15 foreigners, were stranded as massive landslides triggered by incessant rainfall caused devastation in northern Sikkim’s Mangan district, an official said on Friday.

At least six people were killed as landslides and 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,” 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, another official said.
The local authorities have requested the stranded tourists to stay put in their respective places and avoid taking risks, Rao said.

He also stated that there is adequate stock of food supplies and rations to cater to all the stranded tourists.

The office of the chief secretary has already initiated talks with the Centre for airlifting of all the tourists, depending on the weather conditions, he 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.

Rao 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, he 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.

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