At least 23 Armymen are reportedly missing after a flash flood in the Teesta River in Sikkim’s Lachen Valley.
Some army establishments along the valley have been affected.
The sudden flooding is said to have occurred because of the release of water from the Chungthang dam after a cloud burst in the area. This led to an increase in water level by up to 20 feet downstream.
This has also led to Army vehicles parked at Bardang near Singtam getting affected.
The Army said that 23 soldiers were missing after a mighty flash flood caused by intense rainfall tore through the remote valley.
“Due to sudden cloud burst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim, a flash flood occurred in the Teesta River… 23 personnel have been reported missing and some vehicles are reported submerged under the slush,” the army said in a statement. “Search operations are underway.”
The remote area lies close to the border with Nepal, and Lhonak Lake sits at the base of a glacier in the snowy peaks surrounding Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain.
Visuals showed Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang holding an umbrella during a downpour and talking to officials about floods in the town of Singtam, further downstream from where the soldiers are missing.
The Singtham footbridge over river Teesta collapsed due to the overflowing river. Several sections of National Highway 10, which connects West Bengal to Sikkim, were washed away.
The Sikkim government has sounded a high alert in the state and has asked people to stay away from the river Teesta.
The Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong administration in West Bengal have also started evacuating people from the lower catchment area of the river as a precautionary measure.
“Miking is going on. Disaster management teams have been on alert. BDOs of Mal, Rajganj, Maynaguri, Jalpaiguri, Melhliganj, and Haldibari have been on banks since last evening and the whole night with teams. Evacuation is going on in the needed area. Restrictive and planned discharge is being done in a periodic manner from Gajaldoba to keep things under control,” said a Bengal government official.
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