Incessant rainfall triggered landslides on Thursday blocking highways in West Bengal’s Darjeeling and Sikkim and cutting off the northeastern state’s capital Gangtok from Siliguri in the plains.
Fresh landslides hit many parts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts on Thursday amid a warning of heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours.
National Highway (NH) 10 connecting Siliguri in West Bengal and Sikkim and National Highway 31 connecting Siliguri and Dooars in Jalpaiguri district have been closed. NH 10 is the lifeline of the Himalayan state of Sikkim.
District magistrate of Sikkim’s East district Kapil Meena was stuck on National Highway 10 due to landslides at Sethijhora. Meena was returning to Gangtok from Siliguri.
“I don’t know how long it would take to clear the road,” said Meena.
National Highway 55 connecting Siliguri and Darjeeling was also damaged at several places forcing the suspension of services of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR). Train services from Siliguri to Alipurduar were suspended.
Landslides also hit several houses and cars on NH 55.
Over the past few days, two people died in landslides in Pubung in Darjeeling district with three more feared dead when their car fell in the Teesta in the same district.
“Though there has been no new loss of life due to landslides in the last couple of days, roads have been damaged at several places and many houses affected,” Darjeeling’s district magistrate Deepap Priya P said.
She also said that search operations are continuing to locate the vehicle carrying three people which fell into the Teesta on Wednesday.
The president of Save the Hills, an NGO working on disaster management, Praful Rao said the region has witnessed heavy rainfall in the last five days.
“Till July 2, there was a deficit. But in the last five days, Kurseong received 130% of July rainfall. Similarly, Kalimpong received 64% and Darjeeling received 69.3% of the July rainfall,” Rao, a retired wing commander, said.
He also said that Siliguri and Gangtok received 34% and 33.2% of monthly rainfall respectively in the last five days.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) data shows that Sikkim and Darjeeling hills receive 615.8mm of rainfall on an average every year in July.
The major rivers in the region like Teesta, Mahananda, Balasan and Torsa are in spate and yellow warnings have been sounded.
National Desk Report GTM