4 Oct 2023

Sikkim: Cloud Burst Triggers Flash Flood; Three Dead, 23 Army Personnel Missing

A sudden cloud burst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim led to a flash flood in the Teesta River in Lachen valley, which was compounded by the release of water from a dam.  23 army personnel were washed away, while camps and vehicles were submerged, officials said.

"Three bodies have been recovered from Singtam during rescue and relief efforts," a Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) official said. 

The SSDMA said that a cloudburst in portions of Lhonak Lake, which caused the rise of water levels with very high velocities downstream along the Teesta River basin in the early hours of Wednesday, damaged many establishments in Mangan, Gangtok, Pakyong, and Namchi districts. All schools located in the four districts of Sikkim will remain closed till October 8, the education department said in a circular. 

 Defence officials said establishments along the Lachen valley were submerged and efforts were on to verify details. The release of water from the Chungthang dam led to a sudden increase in water levels up to 15-20 feet high downstream. 

This has led to army vehicles parked at Bardang near Singtam getting submerged, Defence spokesperson Lt. Col Mahendra Rawat said. Twenty-three army personnel have been reported missing and 41 vehicles submerged under the slush, he said, adding that search operations are underway. 

Border Road Organisation (BRO) has already launched rescue operations and 80 locals have been safely evacuated so far, the Defence officials said. A steel bridge at Singtam, also known as Indreni bridge, in Gangtok district has been completely washed away by Teesta river water early on Wednesday.

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