GANGTOK- At least 23 Army personnel went missing on Wednesday morning due to a flash flood in the Teesta river in Sikkim’s Lachen Valley. Some Army vehicles have been submerged in the flash flood, defence sources confirmed. A search operation has been launched.
The Army vehicles were parked at Bardang near Singtam when the flash flood occurred after the release of water from the Chungthang dam. The flash flood has also caused damage to several Army establishments along the Lachen valley. The water level rose up to 15-20 feet high downstream.
Efforts are on to assess the full extent of the damage. National Highways have been destroyed and houses have been carried away.
Locals said that the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood at Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim has led to the rush of water into the Teesta, wiping away bridges and low lying areas in the process.
The Singtham foot bridge over river Teesta collapsed due to the overflowing river.
Several sections of National Highway 10, which connects West Bengal to Sikkim, were washed away. Many roads were blocked or unserviceable in the wake of the flash flood.
National Highway -10 totally washed away at Melli (WB) Likhu Bhir and many other places. The Connectivity of Sikkim with Siliguri, NJP, Bagdogra Airport is now blocked.
Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, visited the affected areas in Singtam this morning and took stock of the situation. The Chief Minister met the people of Singtam Bazar and Golitar areas and met the affected citizens. He urged the people to stay alert and take shelter in safe locations for now. He assured that the Government is making all necessary arrangements for evacuation and safe rehabilitation. He appealed to the people to remain calm and ensure their safety first.
The Sikkim government has sounded a high alert in the state and has asked people to stay away from the river Teesta.
The Jalpaiguri administration in West Bengal has started evacuating people from the lower catchment area of the river as a precautionary measure.