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Sikkim flash flood toll climbs to 7

Gangtok, Sept. 23: The body of a Border Roads Organisation junior engineer was found in North Sikkim today during search operations to find those missing after flash floods and landslides in the district on Friday.

The death toll now stands at seven.

Relief commissioner S.B.S. Bhaduria said 13 people are missing. He said of the seven who had died, five were BRO officials, one was a BRO watchman in Kala Pathar (around 1km from Chungthang) and one person was working for the Teesta Urja project.

Ramam in North Sikkim where the junior engineer’s body was found is a little more than 3km from Chungthang.

Today, rescue work had to be stopped at 1pm because of heavy rain.

A.K. Das, the joint director of the BRO, said: “There was heavy downpour since this morning and it disrupted the search operation. Most of the bodies are presumed to have been crushed under big boulders which are difficult to move.”

Yesterday, 17 people were feared dead, among them nine Indo-Tibetan Border Police jawans. But the force said today that some of its personnel who were believed to have been washed away in the flash floods had managed to escape.

“Nine people were missing but five of them had taken shelter in a nearby area and reported (that they were alive) last evening. As of now, four ITBP personnel are missing,” said the commandant (Pegong), Pawan Mallik.

In Mangan, the district headquarters in North Sikkim, police, the ITPB, army and the BRO have been deployed to hunt for bodies.

“The situation is under control. However, the state government is thoroughly monitoring the work,” said Bhaduria.

He said according to the official figures, 13 people are still missing. Of them, seven are from the BRO, four are from ITBP and two are from Teesta Urja.

The relief officer added that two relief camps had been set up, one at Chungthang and other at Pegong.

“There are about 100 people taking shelter in the Chungthang relief camp and 40 people in Pegong,” he added.

The relief officer also said that so far there had been no reports of shortage of essential commodities.

“We have a stock at Chungthang of essential commodities which can last for one month. In case there are reports of food shortage, we have a provision of airdropping essential commodities using the Pawan Hans choppers,” he said.