Rains wreak havoc in Sikkim, leaving over 1,500 tourists stranded

Incessant rains and landslides have so far claimed the lives of nine people in the state.
The government has not been able to use the roads for evacuation as they were blocked by landslides at multiple places.
The government has not been able to use the roads for evacuation as they were blocked by landslides at multiple places.Photo | Express

GUWAHATI: Over 1,500 tourists, including 15 foreigners, have remained stranded in Sikkim for the past few days as the rains and landslides have snapped road connectivity at many places. The tourists are stranded mostly at Mangan, Chungthang and Lachung in the Mangan district. 

According to official sources, the state government had plans to evacuate the stranded people by using helicopters starting Sunday. The choppers, however, could not take off due to inclement weather. The government is expecting that the weather conditions will improve on Monday.

The incessant rains and landslides have so far claimed the lives of nine people in the state.

Meanwhile, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted light to moderate rainfall in the next 48 to 72 hours. The IMD also predicted cloud cover over isolated places.

The government has not been able to use the roads for evacuation as they were blocked by landslides at multiple places. The landslides occurred mostly in areas beyond the state capital, Gangtok, leading up to the Mangan district.

At Chungthang, the tourists are stranded in hotels and at a gurdwara. Panic has set in among them. "Many of us are stranded here. We are not getting any updates on evacuation. Internet is down. Mobile phone connectivity is also very poor," a tourist taking refuge at the gurdwara told a news channel.

"Please rescue us as soon as possible. Our biggest problem is cash. No cash is left with most of us. ATMs are down. Internet banking is not possible," another tourist said.

According to a government statement, around 1,215 tourists, including 15 foreigners, are stranded in Lachung town. The statement said the state’s tourism and civil aviation minister, Tshering Thendup Bhutia, would coordinate the efforts for evacuation.

A senior official of the Border Roads Organisation said the landslides were reported from 70 to 80 locations. "There have been breaches of roads. Portions of roads have also been washed away at some places," the official said, adding that a bailey suspension bridge over the Teesta river had been damaged after a tower fell on it.

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