A sudden and severe cloudburst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim has resulted in flash floods, causing the Teesta River to swell and inundate parts of NH-10, the lifeline connecting Sikkim to the rest of India. This natural calamity has disrupted connectivity to the entire state, including its capital, Gangtok. Additionally, it has led to a massive search and rescue operation as 23 Army personnel are reported missing in the aftermath of the flash floods.
The flash floods have inflicted substantial damage to infrastructure, with local residents capturing videos showing sections of roads being washed away by the surging river waters. The Central Water Commission reported that, at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the Teesta River was flowing below the warning level but was anticipated to surpass the warning threshold within six hours.
The impact of the flash flood was particularly severe in Singtam town, situated about 30 kilometers from Gangtok. River Teesta breached its banks, sweeping away the Indreni Bridge and disrupting vital transportation routes. The Balutar hamlet’s connecting bridge also succumbed to the raging waters, compelling the evacuation of numerous homes near the river basin to temporary relief camps in Singtam.
Further north, in Chungthang town, approximately 90 kilometers from Gangtok and close to the Teesta Dam, residents have been rescued as floodwaters rose. The flash flood also caused damage to two bridges in Dikchu and Toong towns, which are crucial links connecting Singtam to Chungthang in North Sikkim. The Border Road Organisation (BRO) is actively engaged in the rescue efforts in these areas.
In response to the severe weather conditions, a flash flood alert was issued for the north and east districts of Sikkim. Heavy rainfall has been reported in various parts of the state, with concerns about low-lying areas such as Gazoldoba, Domohani, Mekhaliganj, and Ghish potentially being affected.
While there have been no reports of injuries, significant damage to public property has been incurred, and some individuals are unaccounted for. Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang has been overseeing relief operations and has urged residents living along the Teesta riverbanks to evacuate their homes for their safety. The Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority has issued an alert, advising all residents to remain vigilant and avoid travel in the Teesta river basin.
The weather office has also issued a forecast, predicting light to moderate rainfall over Sikkim in the coming days. The situation remains dynamic, and efforts to assess and mitigate the impact of the flash floods continue.