Sikkim: Race against time to save 102 missing in India floods

Sikkim: Race against time to save 102 missing in India floods
Sikkim: Race against time to save 102 missing in India floods

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - GANGTOK — Indian authorities are racing against time to rescue people after flash floods in the north-eastern state of Sikkim left 102 people missing, including 22 army personnel.

Fourteen people are known to have died after a cloudburst over a mountain lake triggered massive floods.

Officials said more than 3,000 tourists had been stranded in different parts of the state.

Hundreds of search and rescue personnel have been deployed across the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he spoke to Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang on Wednesday and assured him of all possible support.

The state's Lhonak lake breached its embankment on Tuesday night after heavy rain. It led to an alarming rise in water in the Teesta river in Lachen Valley.

The flood worsened after water was released from a nearby dam into the river. A defence spokesperson said there was a sudden increase in water levels up to 15-20 ft high downstream.

Nearly 14 people had been trapped in the tunnels of the dam, a state official said.

The Indian army has launched a massive search operation to find and rescue those missing. Officials said one soldier had been rescued on Wednesday night and was in a stable condition.

Rescue personnel also fished out bodies, including that of a child, from the flood plains of the Teesta river in Singtam, officials told PTI news agency.

"The search operations are being undertaken under conditions of incessant rains, fast-flowing water in the Teesta River with the roads and bridges washed away at many places," the army said in its statement.

Sikkim chief secretary VB Pathak said the floods had caused massive damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges.

Mobile coverage in northern parts of the state has also been disrupted.

The army has set up three helplines for families of missing people, including its own soldiers.

"Family members of the missing persons have been contacted and informed about the situation," it said.

Northern parts of neighbouring West Bengal state have also been affected as water from the Teesta inundated Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri disricts.

The state rescued 10,000 people and moved them to 190 relief camps on Wednesday, West Bengal's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

Sikkim in the Himalayas is prone to floods and natural disasters. Last year, severe flooding there displaced tens of thousands and killed at least 24 people. — BBC

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