Fresh landslide near Darjeeling; death toll at 38

RSTV Bureau

darjeeling_jpgOver 38 people have died in Darjeeling in West Bengal where multiple landslides occurred in three subdivisions.

Rescue operations were underway when a fresh landslide was reported at Gayabari, 56 kms from Darjeeling. The road link between Darjeeling and Mirik has been cut off.

Rescue work has picked up as it has stopped raining in the area. Local volunteers along with the National Disaster Response Team and Civil Defence personnel have been handling the rescue work. The Army has also been roped in to help in rescue and relief work

Two task forces have been deployed by the Army in North Bengal comprising four teams each, said an Army official. The Army teams have been deployed in Jalpaiguri, Mainaguri and Uttar Padmavati region.

The landslides which occurred on Wednesday killed 21 people alone in Mirik region, said an official of West Bengal’s Disaster Management Department.

The landslides also caused severe damage to infrastructure and property, washing away highways and damaging homes.

The landslides in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong sub-divisions had caused extensive damage to NH-10 and NH-55, cutting off vital road links to the region.

Efforts were on to clear the roads to facilitate the return of the tourists to the plains.

On Wednesday Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to Siliguri from Murshidabad. She said she will visit the affected areas only if her visit didn’t disturb the ongoing rescue operation.

The Disaster Management Group of the state is doing a good job, Mamata said while speaking to the press late on Wednesday evening.

A compensation of Rs 4 lakh was announced by the CM for the kin of those died in the landslide. PM Modi also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the families.

The Prime Minister also deputed Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju to rush to the area. A central team, headed by Rijiju, visited the landslide-hit areas in Kurseong to take stock of the relief operations. Rijiju visited relief camps and hospitals in Tingling which falls under the Kurseong sub-division. Hundreds of people have been rendered homeless in the area after the disaster.

(With inputs from PTI)