GANGTOK: Officials of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) resumed the rescue operation on Wednesday on Jawaharlal Nehru Road in East Sikkim, where a massive avalanche came on Tuesday, claiming the lives of at least seven people and leaving several trapped under the snow.
On Tuesday, at about 11.30 am, a massive avalanche hit the 15th mile on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road connecting Gangtok with Nathu La. The Army, State Disaster Management Team, and police were also engaged in search and rescue operations.
However, the search and rescue operation was later called off at 6 p.m. due to inclement weather, triggering fears of fresh snow slides. As per officials, seven tourists, including a minor girl, were killed and 13 others were injured in the avalanche. The deceased were identified as Shiva Psd Lamichaney, Ashika Dhakal, Rebya Singh, Bal Singh, Sourav Roy Chaudhary, Pritam Matiy, and Muna Shah Shrestra, officials said.
"Among the seven deceased, we have identified three as Nepal nationals, and two each were from Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The Bengal victims will be taken in an ambulance, two from Uttar Pradesh will be flown, and those from Nepal will be taken by road, for which the State Social Welfare Department is looking into the logistics of taking mortal remains, the Gangtok District Collector said.
The collector said that ex-gratia to the victims will be given as per norms for the Indian victims, but for Nepal victims, the decision will be taken by the Home Department.
Among those that were taken to the STNM Hospital, Gangtok DC informed that 13 victims were taken to the STNM Hospital; seven have been discharged with minor injuries while six persons are still admitted.
Gangtok Superintendent of Police Tenzing Loden Lepcha, while addressing the media yesterday evening at the DC office in Gangtok, informed, "Currently weather conditions are bad, hence rescue operations are on hold. Again in the morning, another rescue operation will be carried out by the NDRF from Pakyong station. The State Disaster Relief Force was active."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed his condolences and said that he was distressed by the mishap. "Distressed by the avalanche in Sikkim. Condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. I hope the injured recover soon. Rescue operations are underway, and all possible assistance is being provided to those affected," PM Modi had tweeted. (ANI)