KOLKATA: Torrential rains caused landslides in north Bengal cutting off National Highway 10, the arterial thoroughfare linking the state with Gangtok in Sikkim, on Wednesday morning. Thousands of tourists, who thronged the hills in the northern part of the state and the northeastern state of Sikkim on the occasion of Durga Puja holidays got stranded in popular destinations in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts.
Communication with the hills and Bagdogra airport and railway stations like New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri were snapped after cracks were spotted in one of the pillars of a major bridge. Toy train services, a key tourist attraction, were also suspended after landslides damaged tracks near Darjeeling.
The situation, however, improved on Wednesday afternoon after the downpour stopped and local authorities started removing debris of the landslides. The water of river Teesta, which had been flowing above the danger mark since Tuesday night, came down and communication with Kalimpong was partially restored.
According to officials of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), incessant rains resulted in landslide blocking the crucial NH-10 which is used by both the army and civilians. Supporting pillars of a steel bridge at Rangpo, the gateway to Sikkim, were damaged after heavy flow in Teesta swept away embankments at many places.
As the overnight downpour on Tuesday continued, 3,800 cusec water was released from Gajoldoba Teesta barrage. The Met department said bad weather would prevail in the sub-Himalayan districts till Thursday.