Sikkim road link snaps for six hours Evacuation continues, army drops food ration

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  • Published 26.09.11

Gangtok, Sept. 25: A landslide at 32 Mile on National Highway 31A today cut off Sikkim’s sole road link with the rest of the country for six hours.

The highway, near Singtam in East district, was cleared of debris a little after noon.

“The debris and fallen trees were cleared around 12.30pm. Although we are pressed for resources, which are being utilised to clear the Mangan-Chungthang road in North Sikkim, we managed to pull out a bulldozer and some manpower from there to remove the debris here (at 32 Mile),” said A.K. Das, the joint director of the Border Roads Organisation’s Project Swastik. An occasional boulder and slush are still slipping down the hill slopes at several points along NH31A since the earthquake last Sunday.

In North Sikkim, Chungthang and areas beyond it, continued to receive food rations from the army even as the choppers were pressed for evacuation. Multiple landslides after the earthquake have blocked the highway from Mangan onwards, the district headquarters of North Sikkim.

According to Colonel Ravi Patel, the spokesperson for the 17th Mountain Division, nine army choppers were pressed into service today. They dropped 300kg of food at Chungthang, 400kg at Lachen and 800kg at Lachung. Technicians from the civilian administration were also air dropped to assist in relief operations and revive radio communication.

Four mountaineers brought by the state government were also flown to Chungthang, 100km from Mangan, to help in the search and rescue operations.

Injured persons and those wanting to leave were evacuated from these regions, the army spokesperson said at the media briefing today.

“In addition to this, certain quantity of diesel and kerosene were dropped at Chungthang and Lachung for the civilians and to meet the fuel requirements of the machines used by the BRO for road restoration work there,” said Col Patel.

A total of 3,300kg of food ration were dropped at five villages in Dzongu in North Sikkim. Landslides have made the hamlets inaccessible by road.

Palchen Lachenpa, a resident of Lachen, 28km from Chungthang, who was airlifted to Gangtok today, said: “We want to tell our relatives and our children who are studying outside Sikkim that we are all safe in Lachen though property has been damaged. Around 150 people in Lachen have been staying together at the village monastery. There is no need to worry. The army is providing us with food there.”

The spokesperson for the Sikkim government, K.S. Topgay, said the state was getting back to normal and “the death toll remained 77”.

The joint director of the land revenue department, G.C. Khanal, said a six-member team, consisting among others three geologists from IIT Roorkee, will be flying to Lachen and Lachung soon to study the health of the lakes and structural stability of buildings. They will then submit a report to the state government.