India: Hundreds stranded in West Bengal, Sikkim after landslides

Repair work of hill roads in West Bengal's districts was halted due to incessant rains. Photograph:( Others )

West Bengal Oct 13, 2016, 05.51 PM (IST) Pooja Mehta

Hundreds of tourists and locals were stranded today in eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Sikkim following landslides due to heavy rains. 


While most highways remained cut off from the cities and towns, tourists were stranded on several arterial roads for several hours as they waited for the debris to get cleared. Normal life remained paralysed as locals could not step out of their homes due to waterlogging. 


Landslides were reported in West Bengal's Alipurduar and Darjeeling districts. A portion of an arterial road between Siliguri and Sevok in Jalpaiguri district caved in due to landslip, sources informed WION. Another hill road in the district of Darjeeling also collapsed.


Incessant rains over the last 48 hours, however, affected the repair work of these hill roads, official sources said. 


North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb said that the tourists are safe and the government will ensure all arrangements are being made for smooth movement of traffic. “Repair work is going on the highways and the roads, where landslides have occurred. Meanwhile, all vehicles are being diverted to other routes till the time all roads are repaired. All tourists are safe,” said Deb.


In the eastern Indian state of Siliguri, services on National Highway 10, which connects Siliguri with Sikkim and Kalimpong (a hill station in West Bengal), remained disrupted due to the landslides. Another landslide was reported at Legship town, near Pelling town in Sikkim, severely affecting road traffic movement between Darjeeling and Legship. 


Teesta and Jaldhaka rivers that flow through Jalpaiguri city of West Bengal, Mahananda river in Darjeeling, Santosh and Kaljani river in Alipurduar district have been overflowing in the wake of incessant rains.  Several low-lying areas of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri have been inundated after the lock-gates on the Teesta river were opened. Weather office has predicted that these areas will receive more rainfall over the next 24 hours.


West Bengal and Sikkim witness a steep surge in tourist footfalls during this time of the year. Locals and tourists participate in massive Durga Puja celebrations, a festival observed by the Bengali community.