Sikkim landslide: All stranded tourists evacuated, say officials | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Sikkim landslide: All stranded tourists evacuated, say officials

Jun 20, 2024 08:18 PM IST

1,447 tourists, including foreign nationals, stranded in North Sikkim due to landslides rescued in 3 days via road as airlift operations were hindered by bad weather.

Kolkata: All the tourists, including some foreign nationals, who were stranded in North Sikkim after landslides triggered by heavy rains cut off the region since June 13, have been rescued and brought to safety, officials aware of the development said.

Around 1,200 tourists were stranded in north Sikkim as most parts of the region remained cut off because of damages on roads, bridges amid heavy rainfall leading to landslides (PTI Photo)
Around 1,200 tourists were stranded in north Sikkim as most parts of the region remained cut off because of damages on roads, bridges amid heavy rainfall leading to landslides (PTI Photo)

The Sikkim government had earlier stated that around 1,200 to 1,500 tourists were stranded in areas such as Lachung and Chungthang in North Sikkim roads and bridges were damaged.

“In a span of three days, a total of 1,447 tourists were rescued and brought to safety. The tourists were all evacuated by road as airlift operations by IAF (Indian Air Force) choppers could not be done because of inclement weather,” said a senior official of Sikkim’s disaster management authority.

At least nine people have died in landslides in North Sikkim and South Sikkim since June 13 along with several houses damaged, power and communication lines snapped and roads and bridges washed away by landslides and the swelling River Teesta.

Airlift rescue operations failed to take off as rains continued in various parts of the state while IAF choppers were kept on standby at Bagdogra airport in West Bengal to fly to North Sikkim to evacuate tourists, officials said.

“We decided to evacuate them in groups from Lachung and Chungthang via roads from Monday,” Sikkim tourism minister Tshering Thendup Bhutia had earlier said.

The evacuation process by road began Monday. Officials said that roads have been washed away at multiple places. The stranded tourists had to trek in three to four sections, where roads were washed away, board vehicles in between and reach the district headquarters, Mangan.

There were stranded vehicles in between Tung and Mangan and the tourists boarded those vehicles to reach Mangan. The road connectivity from Gangtok to Mangan was open.

Tourists flock to popular high-altitude destinations in North Sikkim every year, such as Gurudongmar Lake and Yumthang Valley every year. In 2023, when the Himalayan state was hit by flash floods triggered by a glacial lake outburst, a few thousand tourists had to be airlifted and brought to safety.

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