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Landslides and rain snap hills from plains
A landslide on the toy train tracks. Telegraph Picture

June 23: Heavy rain brought landslides crashing down in and around Darjeeling today, virtually cutting off the hill station from the plains, even as rising rivers raised fears of flood in Jalpaiguri.

Ten passengers were injured when landslides crushed two jeeps, one of them bound for Sukhipohri at Dali, about 6 km from Darjeeling. The injured were admitted to Darjeeling Sadar Hospital.

Five shops and three houses were damaged. No deaths were reported till this evening but the landslides knocked out electricity lines, plunging the hill station into darkness. Telephone services were also affected.

Tourists, though fewer in number at the end of the tourist season, were stranded.

National Highway 55, linking Darjeeling to Siliguri, was breached at Jhor Khola near Ranbull when an avalanche of mud and rocks fell on it. The landslide tore apart the tracks of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, bringing the toy train service to a stop.

Continuing rain hampered rescue and repair work.

The rain has been lashing the region since last night, raising water levels in the Teesta, the Sankosh, the Torsha and the Raidak rivers.

The Teesta was just below the danger level in Domhoni, Mekhliganj and near the Jaldhaka bridge on National Highway 31. The Sankosh was flowing above danger mark, prompting the administration to sound a yellow alert.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in touch with the flood control room,” additional Darjeeling district magistrate Rajiv Kumar said. Employees of key departments, including PWD and irrigation, have been put on high alert. Kumar said the administration had enough relief material and was ready to deal with an emergency.

Normal life was hit by the rain, which left many areas in the Jalpaiguri district headquarters waterlogged.

People in low-lying areas such as Natunpara, Pandapara, Kadamtala and Ashoknagar geared up for hard days as the rain showed no signs of letting up. Roads were deserted with few residents venturing out and fewer vehicles plying. Attendance in offices was thin.

Darjeeling district magistrate Hriydesh Mohan said major landslides hit Sonada, Ranbull, Ghoom, Bhangyan and Simana, on the outskirts of the hill town.

Of the damaged houses, one in Ghoom was hanging precariously on the mountainside.

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