Flash floods in the Indian Himalayan region leave 74 dead with numerous missing.

On October 9 in RANGPO, India, the death toll resulting from flash floods caused by a glacial lake breach in the Indian Himalayas reached 74, while 101 individuals remained missing following the calamity. These events transpired after days of relentless rain in the northeastern state of Sikkim. The floods originated from Lohnak Lake, damaging a dam and causing extensive destruction in villages and Rangpo town, situated around 50 km south of the state capital, Gangtok.

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Sikkim’s chief secretary, Vijay Bhushan Pathak, informed Reuters that rescue efforts had uncovered 25 bodies within the state, and the bodies of eight army personnel swept away were discovered in the downstream state of West Bengal. Among the missing, 14 were army personnel, as stated by the defense ministry.

The search for survivors faced numerous challenges due to damaged roads, communication difficulties, and adverse weather conditions. Local residents grappled with the arduous task of clearing sludge and debris left behind by one of the most severe disasters to strike the remote Himalayan region in over five decades.

Parveen Shama, the senior district official of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, reported that 41 bodies had been found in the district.

Sikkim, a Buddhist state with a population of 650,000, is nestled among the mountains between Nepal, Bhutan, and China. It experienced exceptionally heavy rainfall, receiving 101 mm (four inches) in the first five days of October, more than twice the normal levels.

In October 1968, Sikkim suffered a devastating flood that claimed the lives of an estimated 1,000 people.

Mukesh Kumar, a 43-year-old migrant worker in Rangpo, recounted how he and his neighbors had only about 10 minutes to escape before the flash flood struck. He expressed that had they delayed for just two more minutes, they might have perished.Residents revealed that many individuals residing on the ground floor of buildings likely did not survive.

Baiju Sharma, a 45-year-old furniture business owner, surveyed the aftermath of the disaster and pointed out that the ground level had risen by 15 feet (4.5 meters) compared to before the flood, with his neighbor’s house submerged.

Government officials confirmed that approximately 2,000 tourists stranded in isolated areas of northern Sikkim were safe. State authorities and the army provided them with food and communication facilities to contact their families.

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