KOLKATA:As many as 38 people were killed and several others were trapped under the debris of collapsed buildings in massive landslides in Darjeeling Hills in North Bengal on Wednesday, which was triggered by incessant rains that lashed the region. While 23 persons died in Kurseong and neighbouring areas, 15 persons lost their lives in Mirik as houses in both places collapsed. And the natural calamity also led to Sikkim remaining cut-off from the rest of the country as a result of the roads collapsing.
The heavy rains over the last few days triggered landslides on roads in Kurseong and Mirik in Darjeeling district and on the hilly road to Sikkim from Siliguri, which is the only connection between the hill state and rest of the country by road in absence of any railway or airport. As the wet weather continued, the repair work had to be halted. The Darjeeling Himlayan Railway, which resumed the toy train operations last month, listed as a World Heritage Site had to be discontinued due to the landslides
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)have swung into action owing to the gravity of the situation. The Seema Suraksha Bal jawans have started rescue and relief operations. Repair work particularly on the road to Sikkim is being conducted on a war footing as the hill state has borders with China. However, since majority of the roads in the mountainous zone has been damaged, relief could not reach the affected people. The lashing rain also led to a large number of bridge collapsing and getting washed away. Locals at Mirik complained that it was not a landslide prone area but because of electric cables being laid the roads were dug up leaving large craters whivh led to the landslides. West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to Darjeeling to monitor rescue and relief operations while Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Union MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju to reach the hill district. Also, an ex-gratia for the kin of those, who lost their life in the tragedy, has been announced from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
The locals in Mirik complained that it was not a landslide prone area but because of electric cables being laid, the roads were dug up leaving large craters and that led to the landslides.