Sikkim Landslides : Toursists airlifted from Gangtok and Sevoke

Sikkim, Sep 16 : Hundreds of tourists that were stranded due to landslides  on two important national highways connecting Sikkim’s capital Gangtok with northern West Bengal, were  airlifted by Army, Air Force , in coordination with civil administration.

Helicopters have made several sorties from Gangtok and Sevoke and evacuated around 100 people, including a pregnant woman.Evacuation operation is still underway as fresh landslides on Saturday on two important national highways connecting Sikkim’s capital Gangtok with northern West Bengal hit traffic movement badly, leaving hundreds of tourists and goods-laden vehicles stranded.

The two affected roads are National Highway 10, which connects Darjeeling district’s headquarters Siliguri and northern West Bengal’s Kalimpong with Sikkim, and National Highway 31C that links Siliguri with Bengal’s Dooars and also Assam.

A heavy downpour in northern West Bengal had triggered the landslides, state officials said.

Landslides at three places at Mongpong near Sevok wreaked havoc as a 50 metre stretch caved in on NH-31C and several trees fell on the road.

The most affected stretch was earlier repaired after Thursday’s landslide but it got damaged again, according to officials from the West Bengal Public Works (PWD) department.

“Work is going on to clear the road and the damaged stretches need to be rebuilt. It will take two days to resume vehicle movement,” an official said.

The landslide-hit NH-10 was partially opened for vehicular movement through a one-way arrangement from Saturday evening after the PWD workers repaired the damaged stretches, officials said.

Following Thursday’s landslide, the traffic movement was commenced on NH-10 from Friday evening but Saturday’s fresh landslides halted the movement in the morning, they said.

The West Bengal government arranged special buses to rescue stranded tourists, state minister Goutam Deb said.

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