At least 38 people have been killed in a series of landslides caused by heavy rain in three sub-divisions of Darjeeling district.
Twenty-one deaths occurred in Mirik alone, where another 13 people were also reported missing, officials in West Bengal’s Disaster Management Department said. The remaining 17 died in Kalimpong-1 and 2, Lava, Sukhia block and Gorubathan, they said.
The landslides in 25 places in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong subdivisions also caused extensive damage to NH-10 and NH-55, cutting off road link to the region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed pain over the loss of lives and has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased.
“Deeply pained at the loss of lives due to the landslides in Darjeeling district. Condolences to the families of the deceased,” he tweeted.
He directed Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju to go to the locations to take stock of the situation. A team from NDRF is extending all possible support, Modi said.
Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel were carrying out rescue operations and Army’s help has been sought. 20 persons were also injured in the calamity and 15 people were reported missing at 8 Mile and 11 Mile areas in Kalimpong, SSB sources said.
“22 people were killed in landslides at different places in Darjeeling hills,” Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan said in Kolkata. Border Roads Organisation (BRO) men were engaged in clearing the blocked roads.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has rushed to the affected places. “I am monitoring the situation closely and will rush there after the meeting in Murshidabad,” she tweeted.
She said that the home secretary was already in North Bengal.
North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb said that Army’s help had been sought for the rescue operations although various agencies were working there.
The sources said that at least 25 landslips were reported from the three sub-divisions and SSB teams have rushed to the affected areas. NH 10 (old NH 55A) bore the brunt with the road link to Kalimpong, Lava, Lolegaon and Garubathan snapped. NH 55 connecting Siliguri, Matigara with Darjeeling was also damaged particularly in Mirik and Rohini areas.
A bridge on NH 55 has been washed away at Nimbujhora, the sources said. More details were awaited. The rescue work was underway and the death toll could rise.
Landslides also occurred at several places between Mongpong and Sevoke Kalibari and people were stranded on NH31 which links these places.