The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hills and plains face natureís fury

Gangtok, July 17: Vehicles travelling to and from Gangtok remained stranded on National Highway 31A for most of today after the arterial road connecting Sikkim to the rest of the country was hit by two landslides within 48 hours.

Heavy rain since yesterday caused a series of landslides across Sikkim, snapping road links to most major towns. So far, no one has died, though at least five persons have been injured.

Sikkim Tourism Development Corporationís helicopter service between Gangtok and Bagdogra also remained suspended today because of fog and bad weather.

Yesterday, a landslide near Bardang, between Rangpo and Singtam, had blocked NH 31A for several hours. The area remained covered with debris today. A second landslide was reported from 32nd Mile between Singtam and Ranipul this morning.

The highway was cleared for traffic around 5pm but smaller vehicles are still finding it difficult to negotiate the affected stretches.

Sikkimís internal road network, too, has been badly hit. Namchi and Gyalshing, the South and West district headquarters respectively, remained cut off from Gangtok after landslides in several areas blocked the state highways and other roads connecting the two towns.

This morning, three persons were injured when debris fell on a bus near Singtam. The bus was returning to Gangtok after an unsuccessful bid to get to Namchi.

Two more persons were injured when a house in Tinzir near Namchi collapsed. Landslides have damaged houses in South and East Sikkim as well.

In Rangpo, the rising waters of the Teesta is threatening to swallow slums located on the riverbank.

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