6th October 2023, Mumbai: The death toll in the flash flood disaster in Sikkim has tragically risen to 22, with the Indian Army launching a massive operation to provide relief to thousands of individuals stranded by the deluge. The flash flood occurred in the tiny state due to the possible bursting of a high-altitude glacial lake near the China-Nepal border. Among the deceased are at least seven Army personnel.
The Army has established lookout teams along the river
The Defence Public Relations Officer (PRO) in Guwahati reported that military equipment, including firearms and explosives, had been washed away by the Teesta River as a result of the severe floods. They issued a warning urging people to report any unfamiliar objects, crates, packages, firearms, or suspicious items found in or around the river. The Army has established lookout teams along the river downstream to aid in identifying and responding to any such objects.
The bodies were retrieved from the Teesta River basin
Twenty-three Army personnel had gone missing from Sikkim’s Bardang area during the flood, with seven bodies recovered and one soldier rescued so far. The search for the missing soldiers is ongoing in Sikkim and North Bengal. Four of the seven bodies found have been identified. The bodies were retrieved from the Teesta River basin and its tributaries in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts, as well as the Siliguri area of Darjeeling district in northern West Bengal, which shares a border with Sikkim. The Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) reported that 2,411 stranded individuals have been evacuated, and 26 relief camps in four affected districts have provided shelter to 7,644 people.
Sikkim soon to assess the damage caused by a Glacial Lake
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has approved a sum of ₹44.8 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to provide relief to the people of Sikkim. In response to Shah’s directive, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has formed an Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) that will visit the affected areas of Sikkim soon to assess the damage caused by a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF), cloudburst, and flash floods.
Rescuing approximately 3,000 tourists
A total of 103 people were initially reported missing after the incident, with the majority of them in Pakyong, Gangtok, Mangan, and Namchi. Sikkim’s Chief Secretary VB Pathak announced that the army would be involved in rescuing approximately 3,000 tourists who were stranded in the Lachen, Lachung, and Chungthang areas of Sikkim due to the flood.
By Yashika Desai