Rescue operations are underway in the Indian state of Sikkim after devastating floods hit the region on Wednesday. According to local authorities, the death toll from the disaster has increased to 42. The services are still looking for almost 150 missing people.
The death toll from the floods in India’s Sikkim state has risen to 42, local authorities said on Friday evening. Regional secretary Vijay Bhushan Pathak said 20 bodies were found in Sikkim state and 22 in downstream West Bengal.
A rescue operation is underway in the region. On Friday, the number of missing people increased to 142 – previously a hundred people were reported. 15 of them were soldiers who helped the injured. On Friday, attempts were also made to evacuate tourists who were trapped at the highest points of the state, but the action was disrupted by unfavorable weather conditions. Indian authorities have confirmed that the tourists are not in any danger.
Houses swept away from the face of the earth
Glacial Lake Lhonak overflowed on Wednesday after heavy rainfall, leading to a devastating flash flood. The direct cause of the disaster was the breaking of a natural dam closing the waters of the lake located at an altitude of over 5,200 meters above sea level. Over the next several dozen hours, the flood wave passed through the surrounding towns and villages, washing away houses and bridges and forcing thousands of people to evacuate.
– We ran towards a hill in the forest. We saw houses being wiped off the face of the earth, one flood witness told Reuters. – Now I can only see the first floor of our house, all filled with sand, and everything else is submerged.
As reported by the authorities of the state of Sikkim, quoted by the Associated Press, over 2,000 residents were rescued and 26 temporary camps were created, which can accommodate 22,000 people. injured.
Tourists evacuated by helicopters
Inhabited by approximately 650,000 people, high-mountain Sikkim was cut off from the world. One of the main highways collapsed and flood waters destroyed several houses, as well as a military base and other buildings. Several bridges were damaged.
About three thousand tourists and 700 car drivers were stuck in the flood-affected area because they did not manage to leave the flooded areas in time.
Sikkim is one of the smallest Indian states. It is famous as a destination for climbing expeditions. The highest peak, Kanchenjunga, rises to a height of 8,586 m above sea level
Twice as much rain as usual
In the first five days of October, 101 liters of rain per square meter fell in the state of Sikkim, more than twice the normal amount, causing more flooding than the one that occurred in October 1986 and killing about 1,000 people, according to the India Meteorological Department. people.
Floods and landslides are relatively common in India and cause a lot of damage, especially during the monsoon season, which is from June to September. In October, similar events have occurred sporadically – notes AFP. The causes of the disaster in Sikkim should be sought in the ongoing climate change, which is manifested, among others, by the melting of glaciers in the high parts of the Himalayas – said climatologists quoted by AP.
Reuters, PAP, tvnmeteo.pl, Times of India
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/INDIAN ARMY