5 dead, 49 missing in Sikkim flash flood; 23 Army soldiers are among the missing

The flash flood occurred in the Teesta River in Lachen valley due to a sudden cloud burst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim

Kolkata: In a tragic incident, at least five persons died while 49 others including 23 Indian Army soldiers went missing after they were swept away by a flash flood following a sudden cloud burst over a lake in Sikkim early on Wednesday.

Gangtok Sub Divisional Magistrate Mahendra Chettri informed that five bodies were recovered from Golitar and Singtam area later in the day. State administration official added that 26 local residents also went missing. So far 45 others were rescued including 18 injured.

The 23 missing army troopers are from various units of the Army. They were in transit when calamity hit them after 1 am in the mountainous state. Some army vehicles have also got submerged in the high tide.

The flash flood occurred in the Teesta River in Lachen valley due to the sudden cloudburst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim, the Sukna-based Trishakti Corps of the Eastern Command said.

It informed that some army establishments along the valley have been affected and efforts are underway to confirm details. The release of water from the Chungthang dam led to a sudden increase in water level upto 15-20 feet high downstream, an army officer pointed out.

This has led to Army vehicles parked at Bardang near Singtam getting affected. The Trishakti Corps stated, "23 personnel have been reported missing and some vehicles are reported submerged under the slush. Search operations are underway." As the day progressed, the north eastern state however became almost isolated from neighbouring West Bengal as heavy downpour continued damaging roads heavily.

Expressing his concerns over the tragedy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on X, (formerly Twitter), "Spoke to Sikkim CM Shri @PSTamangGolay and took stock of the situation in the wake of the unfortunate natural calamity in parts of the state. Assured all possible support in addressing the challenge. I pray for the safety and well-being of all those affected."

Defence minister Rajnath Singh posted on X (formerly Twitter), "The Glacial Lake Burst at Lonak, Sikkim is deeply heart-wrenching. Relief and rescue operations in the midst of extremely bad weather are in progress. Praying for the well-being of those army personnel, who are missing due to this tragedy."

Sikkim CM Prem Singh Tamang posted on Facebook, "Our dedicated teams are working day and night to address the immediate concerns…This morning, I visited and took stock of the affected locality, interacted with the people, and held a meeting with the administration and the locals I have directed them to act upon the situation with full dedication, leaving no stone unturned to lend a hand to the needy people."

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