In North Bengal and Sikkim, torrential rains over the last 24 hours have triggered landslides in the hills. Roads have sunk, mountain rivers have damaged bridges and swollen rivers in the plains are flowing over the danger mark, endangering villages even across the border in Bangladesh. A cloudburst over the Kalimpong district in north Bengal last night turned the Teesta and its tributaries into raging rivers.
One person was killed after a tree fell on a car in Kalimpong and at least 60 to 70 tourists are stranded near the Lava town due to landslides in the district.
According to sources, of the 33 scheduled flights in and out of Bagdogra airport in the plains, 19 were canceled.
Several places in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Sikkim got over 200 mm of rainfall in the last 24 hours. Gajoledoba in Jalpaiguri which got nearly 350 mm of rainfall was the worst hit.
Scores of tourists stranded by landslides in Kalimpong have had to be rescued. Roads and houses have been damaged in Darjeeling and disaster management forces are out to rescue people from flooded villages in Jalpaiguri. Toy train services have been shut down in Darjeeling.
In South and East Sikkim districts too, heavy rains have brought normal life to a halt. Around 2:30 am today, four iron pillars supporting the Rangpo Bridge connecting the state to Bengal were washed away. Authorities have shut the bridge to heavy vehicles. Only small four-wheelers are allowed to cross it.
Another damaged bridge, the Balason Bridge, is also disrupting traffic to Bagdogra airport in the plains. One of its pillars appears to have bent. Only two-wheeler vehicles are being allowed through it, forcing airport-bound traffic to take a long detour.
The weather department recorded extremely heavy rain of over 200 mm in the Kalimpong -Darjeeling-Sikkim area. Gajoldoba in the foothills saw 342 mm of rain.
At the Teesta Barrage in Gajoledoba, water flowed over sluice gates at around 60 cm above the danger mark. This flooded villages even in the adjacent Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh.
In Jalpaiguri, civil defense workers are going around with loudhailers asking people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground. Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts have also been affected.
The police have issued an advisory to avoid all non-essential travel in the affected districts.
Yesterday, the weather office had issued a red rainfall warning for Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Today, it has been stepped down to yellow but Orange flags are up for the other north Bengal districts, including Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, and Cooch Behar.