Freak boulder kills 3 in Sikkim

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Gangtok
  • Published 27.10.09
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Gangtok, Oct. 27: Three tourists were killed and eight others injured in a freak accident this morning when a boulder came crashing down on their vehicle below Yumesamdong and tossed it into a ravine about 200 feet deep.

The dead persons have been identified as Debashis Basak and Tapas Roy Basak from Sainthia in Birbhum and Nanda Ghosh, a woman from Baranagar in Calcutta.

The accident occurred around 11am while the group was on their way to Yumesamdong, a scenic valley in North Sikkim that has hot springs at an altitude of 15,300 feet, about 170km from here (see map).

According to the subdivisional magistrate of Chunthang, Tashi Chopel, the travellers had left Lachung for the valley that is located close to the border with China.

“The tourists were on their way up after stopping at Yumthang and according to reports a boulder hit their car. The injured were pulled out from the gorge by locals and the drivers of other tourist vehicles and taken to the army health centre at Sharnock, before being brought to the primary health centre at Chungthang,” he said.

One of the survivors, Shyamal Pal, however, said the car fell while was negotiating a bend.

The survivors and the bodies were brought to Yumthang, 15km downhill. Police sources said those injured had been referred to the North Sikkim district hospital at Mangan.

The sources said the injured had been identified as Ganesh Basak and Suman Das from Jalpaiguri and Shyamal and his wife Mamata Pal, Nanda’s husband Gautam Ghosh and Mithun Manas and Bonosree Manas. All of them are from Baranagar. The driver of the car, Ongden Lachungpa, has been also injured. Police said all of them had suffered fractures and cuts.

Gautam Ghosh is a former employee of ABP Private Limited and had taken voluntary retirement from the company in January 2004.

Shyamal told the police that Gautam and Nanda were his neighbours at Mondolpara Lane.

“He said the two families were very close and the two couples often went vacationing together,” an officer investigating the case said. The officer said the group had arrived in Sikkim on Sunday and was supposed to make the trip to Yumesamdong today and return to Lachung for an overnight stay before leaving for Gangtok.

An executive officer of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim said they had contacted their members in North Sikkim and asked them to provide all assistance to the injured.

“We are doing our best to help them reach homes safely and are constantly monitoring the situation,” he said.

The TAAS official said the injured had reached the North Sikkim district hospital around 6.30pm.