LANDSLIDE & FLOOD DISASTER: Seven landslides cut off Sikkim link Woman disappears in swirling flash flood

LANDSLIDE & FLOOD DISASTER: Seven landslides cut off Sikkim link Woman disappears in swirling flash flood – need slide warning relay service on NH31A ?!!

NH 31A slides at Topkhani Tunnel - needs constant vigilance ?!! (Sikkim Express)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, Aug. 27: Seven landslides struck a 15km stretch of NH31A and crippled traffic on Sikkim’s only road link with the rest of the country after heavy rain lashed the Himalayan state last night. A 31-year-old woman was washed away in one of the flash floods that followed.

The landslides, four of them major ones, occurred between 32 Mile and Singtam on NH31A, the stretch littered with slush and debris that came tumbling down from the hillside late last night and early this morning.

Drivers push their cars from near the Government Fruit Preservation Factory towards Singtam - muscle power over motor power ?!! (Prabin Khaling)

The landslides left at least 100 vehicles coming from Siliguri stranded on the Bengal-Sikkim border at Rangpo for sometime. While some passengers tried to walk and cross the slides, others returned to Siliguri.

“The vehicles — there were lots of them — were told to stay put at Singtam for the night,” said A.K. Singh, the executive engineer of Project Swastik of the Border Roads Organisation that is in charge of the highway.

The first major landslide nearest to Gangtok was at the mouth of Topakhani, a 12-metre tunnel, 23km from here.

Personnel from the Project Swastik managed to clear some of the debris, enabling light vehicles to sneak through the tunnel, but they could not proceed beyond a few kilometres because of the second major landslide near the Chisopani bridge.

A part of National Highway 31A that sunk in at 9th Mile, 16km from Gangtok on Friday - a yearly occurrence that urgently needs up-gradation due to massive development ?!! (Prabin Khaling)

The other two major slides were near the Government Fruit Preservation Factory, 28km from Gangtok. The landslides here have eroded at least 30 metres of the road.

The landslide near Chisopani bridge appeared to be the most massive one, as the road remained buried under a pile of huge boulders, fallen trees and slush. BRO workers engaged in the restoration admitted that at least 48 hours would be required to clear the road.

Project Swastik chief engineer Brigadier Rajiv Sawhney said: “The major challenge to clearing the road was that the huge boulders could not be blasted because of the human settlements in the area.”

In South Sikkim, Mamta Rai, a citizen of Nepal staying at Manpari busty near Mamzing, was washed away by a flash flood last night.

“We have passed directions that the Mamzing Government Secondary School will be closed down till further notice as the institution is under threat because of landslides,” said South district collector A.K. Singh.

South District under rain damage – Flash flood claims one, damages 10 houses, affects 38 families, blocked link roads – to get worse until rains ease ?!!

Mangan-Singtam stretch damaged at Tintek Khola triggered by persistent rains over the past three days - a young and fragile mountain that just cannot take the yearly strain ?!! (Sikkim Express)

From The Sikkim Express
By Namo Dixit

NAMCHI, August 27, 2010: Thirty eight families affected, one dead, one school closed, 10 houses completely damaged, three at the verge of collapsing anytime, several link roads and approach roads blocked.

This is the present condition of South District which has resulted due to the incessant rains that has been hitting the State since last couple of days.

As per the latest scenario, DC South AK Singh said 38 families have been badly affected by landslide, cutting off all approach roads.

All the affected families have been shifted to Panchayat Bhawan nearby and to other safe places. On the other hand, Mamzing School has been directed to be closed keeping in mind the safety measures as it is threatened by landslide, he said.

To add to the turmoil, there is complete communication failure due to power shortage since the past three days.

A team led by SDM Rabongla along with DPO DRM will be visiting the sites tomorrow as they failed to get today because of road blockades.

It is informed that 10 houses have been completely damaged and are about to collapse. People from the State Health Department, it is further informed are working there presently to give first aid and to provide safety measures. The district administration is also sending all the required things to the spot.

The administration is forming a team comprising of police, health and fire personnel. “If needed, the Tibetan Army at Rabongla will also be called for help,” the DC said.
Meanwhile, all the concerned departments are informed to stay alert and the administration has contacted the concerned Ward Panchayat and RDAs so that they maintain proper vigil.

Since the entire approach road has been blocked to the site of calamity, the rescue team, the district officials said will be approaching via the trekking route, while the SAP and the Quick Response Team will be taken for help to reach the affected people.

If more problems persist, the administration would write a letter to Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation asking them to provide chopper so that it can help in the relief work in the affected areas, it was informed.

Adding to the disaster, one Mamta Rai (31) wife of Balaram Rai of Manpari busty and a citizen of Nepal was swept away by flash flood yesterday night along with pig sty. Two others were also washed by the flood but survived the wrath.

The road conditions have also been badly affected. At least five important road links have been blocked and the working for clearing them is going on and may take 3-4 days. The road connecting Namchi-Gangtok via Damthang have been blocked in two places and the work is on.

However, with rains still persistent, relief work is being affected. In case of emergency mid day meal will be used as help from the concerned department who will be paid back in return, the district officials said.

They further said that apart from food, other basic necessities will be sent to the affected areas. People from LANCO Infratec are also asked to coordinate, while Fire Namchi will coordinate with Fire Singtam in case of need.

The District administration is also trying to get the stock of sick and pregnant women so that they can be brought to safer places for rescue and relief.

MEANWHILE BELOW IN THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING

North Bengal low-lying areas flooded – and expected to get worse ?!!

Man on a raft in Jalpaiguri - now to keep boats on standby for the next monsoon ?!! (TT)

From ThaIndia

Siliguri, Aug 27, 2010 16:15:21 (IANS): Several low-lying areas of north Bengal in Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts of West Bengal were submerged Friday following heavy rainfall, which affected 5,000 people and led to a rise in the water level of the Teesta river.

Following this, the administration issued ‘red signal’ alert along both the banks of the river.

Jalpaiguri district administration sources said ‘red signal’ was declared over both the banks after the water level of the Teesta river rose following heavy rainfall in the hilly and plains areas.

The ‘red signal’ warning was issued from the Jalpaiguri town down the river to the Bangladesh border.

Several areas in the Siliguri subdivision of the Darjeeling district were submerged following heavy rainfall since Thursday.

Low-lying areas in Siliguri subdivision like Naxalbari, Rangapani and Nayabasti have been flooded. The people of these areas staged a protest due to poor drainage system in the area.

The weatherman has predicted very heavy rainfall in isolated places of the region till Saturday.

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