KOLKATA/SILIGURI/KALIMPONG: At least 14 persons were killed and at least 102 persons – 22 of them Army personnel – went missing in North Sikkim after a flash flood in the Teesta early on Wednesday caused massive devastation in the region, washing away several bridges and roads, disconnecting internet and phone lines, completely cutting off capital Gangtok from Bengal and the rest of the country.
Some Army establishments along the valley had been affected, said an Eastern Command spokesperson, who added that 41 vehicles were also submerged in the slush. “Search operations are underway,” he said.
Late in the evening, Army sources said one of the 23 personnel, who had initially been reported missing, was later rescued. His condition was stable. The Sikkim government has declared a ‘disaster’. Chief minister Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) wrote on X that emergency services had been mobilized in the affected areas. “I personally visited Singtam to assess the damages and engage with the local community. I humbly urge all our citizens to remain vigilant and refrain from unnecessary travel during this critical time”, he posted.
A Bengal government issued a press statement saying at least 14 persons – 13 from Rangpo forest valley and one from Tarkhola in Kalimpong’s Lava block, near the Sikkim border – were also missing. A family of three, who were stranded in Rangpo in Lava, were rescued with Army help.

Kalimpong in crisis: Flash floods block NH10 after sudden cloud burst

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the flash flood was due to a glacial lake outburst flood – a ‘GLOF’, a type of outburst flood caused by the failure of a dam containing a glacial lake – in parts of Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim’s Mangan district, between 1am and 1.10am. A PRO, defence statement from Guwahati, however, attributed it to a “sudden cloudburst“.

IMD director Gopi Nath Raha said the flash flood was due to a GLOF, not a cloudburst. “According to rainfall data from different stations in North Sikkim, this was a GLOF, not a cloudburst. The main rainfall was at Namchi and Pakyong districts, with the highest at Magitar, which got 125mm rainfall,” he said.

Watch Sikkim flash floods: 23 army men missing after cloud burst in Lachen Valley

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