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Couple die as car skids off highway

Kalimpong, July 16: An executive engineer of the Northeast Frontier Railway and a woman, who police assumes was his wife, were killed when the car they were travelling in skidded of NH31A and rolled down almost 300 feet below at Reang near Rambi today.

The driver of the car has suffered injuries and has been taken to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri, 40km away.

Kalimpong police said NFR official Debojit Bordoloi, 53, was travelling towards Siliguri from Sikkim when the accident occurred.

“We could identify the deceased person from some documents we found on him. He is a resident of Mangaldoi in Darang district of Assam. We are yet to ascertain the name of the deceased woman but we are assuming that she was his wife and the couple were going to Siliguri after getting their daughter admitted to the Sikkim Manipal University,” said a police officer.

He added that the couple were travelling in a Hyundai Santro that had a Bengal registration and the car had been hired from New Jalpaiguri or Siliguri. The accident took place around 4.15pm.

“NFR officials have informed us that they are sending a team to the Rambi primary health centre where both the bodies have been kept,” he said.

Rambi is 30km from here.

According to the police, the driver lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a bend on the highway.

“It could be the result of over speeding. The car fell about 300-350 feet below the road. When we reached the spot we found the couple dead and the driver was badly injured and unconscious,” said the officer.

Sikkim landlslides

A portion of North Sikkim Highway between Chungthang and Mangan was washed away in a landslide barely 48 hours after the road was cleared of slush and debris that came down the hill slopes on Friday.

“A major landslide has occurred near Lanthey Khola, 10km from Mangan, on Sunday night,” said a source from the Border Roads Organisation in Mangan, the North district headquarters of Sikkim.

A half-kilometre stretch on the highway has been washed away.

According to the Met office in Gangtok, Mangan recorded 116mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. “Rainfall ranging between 65mm and 124mm falls under the heavy rainfall category, which can trigger landslides,” said assistant metereologist Michael Das.

Sources said people were crossing the affected stretch on foot and boarding vehicles thereafter. “There have been no reports of tourists getting stranded,” an official said.

According to BRO sources, it may take a couple of days to restore the road.

A landslide had occurred on the same stretch on Friday after which the highway had been shut. The road was opened on Saturday morning.

Sikkim’s only road link to the rest of the country was blocked for almost two hours today after three landslides at Suntaley near Loha Pool.

Police sources said the landslides occurred around 3am and it took almost six hours for the BRO to open one side of NH31A. Almost 200 vehicles plying towards Sikkim and Kalimpong were stranded.