At least 23 Army personnel and 20 civilians are missing in Sikkim after a cloudburst triggered flash floods in the Teesta river. A massive search has been launched to locate the missing people, the Army and the local administration have said.
A statement by the Army's Eastern Command has said some establishments along Lachen valley have been affected. "Release of water from the Chungthang dam led to a sudden increase in water level up to 15-20 feet high downstream. This has led to Army vehicles parked at Bardang near Singtam getting affected. 23 personnel have been reported missing and some vehicles are reported submerged under the slush. Search operations are underway," the statement said.
Sikkim has received heavy rain through the night. A cloudburst over Lhonak Lake in north Sikkim caused it to overflow and pushed up the water levels in Teesta river. The Teesta river flows through Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has spoken to the chief minister of Sikkim and assured him of support.
"Spoke to Sikkim CM Shri @PSTamangGolay and took stock of the situation in the wake of the unfortunate natural calamity in parts of the state. Assured all possible support in addressing the challenge. I pray for the safety and well-being of all those affected," PM Modi posted on X, formerly Twitter.
The Sikkim administration has issued a high alert for residents. Videos recorded and shared by local residents show roads washed away and the river in spate.
"Nobody has been injured but there has been significant damage to public property. Some people have also been reported missing in Singtam. Relief operations are on," Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said during a visit to an affected area.
The India Meteorological Department has said Teesta is swollen after the lake in Sikkim's Chungthang overflowed. "Low-lying areas such as Gazoldoba, Domohani, Mekhaliganj and Ghish may be affected. Please be alert," the weather office said.