Flash Floods in Sikkim Claim 53 Lives, Including 7 Soldiers; 140 Missing

  • 07 Oct 2023

At least 53 individuals, including seven soldiers, have recently lost their lives in flash floods in Sikkim, with 27 more bodies discovered in the Teesta riverbed in West Bengal.

Key Points

  • Devastating Impact: The Sikkim government reports severe damage to 1,173 houses and the rescue of 2,413 individuals.
  • All bridges downstream to the Teesta-V hydropower station have been submerged or washed out, disrupting communication to North Sikkim.
  • Government Response: Sikkim Chief Minister chaired a high-level meeting to plan rescue, relief, and restoration efforts.
  • Priority is on reopening road connectivity up to Chungthang, with plans to construct the Naga-Toong road when land is available.
  • Compensation of Rs. 4 lakh has been announced for the families of the deceased.
  • Rescue and Rehabilitation: Sikkim authorities are focused on reopening road connectivity to Chungthang and constructing the Naga-Toong road when land is available.
  • Weather Forecast: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts light to moderate rainfall in most places in Mangan district over the next five days, with generally cloudy to overcast skies in Lachen and Lachung.
  • Indian Air Force's Efforts: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has faced difficulties in carrying out rescue and relief operations with Mi-17 helicopters due to bad weather, low cloud cover, and low visibility in the Lachen and Lachung valleys..
  • Extent of Damage: Flash floods and a glacial lake burst have affected over 25,000 people, damaged nearly 1,200 homes, and destroyed 13 bridges.
  • Cause of Disaster: A glacial lake burst led to flash floods and water release from the Chungthang Dam, significantly raising the Teesta River's water level.
  • Meteorological Shortcomings: A Parliamentary Committee previously highlighted a severe shortage of meteorological and monitoring stations in Himalayan regions.
  • Sikkim, with 694 glacial lakes, has only eight flood forecasting stations, three for water levels and five for inflows.
  • Government Response and Relief: Home Minister Amit Shah approved Rs. 44.8 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to provide relief to affected individuals.
  • An Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) will assess the damage by visiting the affected areas.