statesman news service
GANGTOK, 27 JUNE: The Mountain Black Cat Division has rescued about 250 tourists last night when they were stranded near Changu Lake (13,300 ft height) around 15 km ahead of Nathula at the India-China Border in East Sikkim after the terrain experienced heavy showers and landslides.
A senior Army officer of Black Cat Division informed that severe landslides had occurred at Kyangonosa La on JN Marg near Nathula following heavy rainfall yesterday. “The landslide has left more than 250 tourists stranded on the road,” he added.
Spending the night in the cold with heavy rainfall continuing at a place with no hotels and civilian facilities would have been a nightmare for them.
However, the Army units at Kyangonosa La came to the relief of the distressed tourists. The Army provided centrally-heated accommodation for stay, hot meals and milk to the children for about 230 tourists, consisting of 95 men, 83 women and 51 children till they moved out for Gangtok this morning.
One of the stranded tourists said a possible nightmare has turned into a night to remember thanks to the care and hospitality shown by the jawans.
The Chief Engineer of Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Mr S S Porwal, said that BRO jawans had worked with dozers to clear the roads during night.
The road is learnt to have been opened at 9 p.m. and five to six vehicles left for Gangtok and reached there by 11 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Sikkim government has declared that from today till next Saturday, no vehicle carrying either the tourists or the traders on the Gangtok-Nathula Road would be allowed. This is in response to the heavy rain forecast in the sub-Himalayan regions of Sikkim for the next 48 hours from Indian Meteorological Department. The state authorities decided not to allow vehicles along JN Marg (Gangtok-Nathula Road) beyond Second Mile Check-post.
Mr Porwal also mentioned that the North Sikkim Highways would be closed any time because of the landslides, particularly in Phodong and Lanthekhola areas and also some parts of the Lachen routes on way to Gurudongmar Lake.
The Indian Meteorological Department in-charge for Sikkim, Mr Gopinath Raha informed that till yesterday the volume of rainfall being recorded was between 64.5 mm to 124.4 mm.
“This falls under the category of heavy rainfall,” he added.