Altogether 600 people are currently in the relief camps in Tingling area of Mirik which bore the brunt of devastations caused by landslides in Darjeeling Hills district.
Apart from Tingling Primary School, relief camps have been set up at the garden’s hospital, creche, tea garden office, assistant manager’s bungalow and also at Soureni Community Hall where the homeless, all locals, were housed, a GTA official told visiting reporters on Saturday.
All the residents of Limbu Gaon, the worst-hit in Tingling, are now housed in a primary school hall situated on a picturesque hilltop with a lush tea garden surrounding the two-storied building.
Inside the school, there is only the uncertainty of the future. Archala Thapa, who was sitting on the floor covered with only tarpaulin sheets, was worried about her five-year-old son Suhant’s education.
"He used to study at Marigold School. The school was run by Subash Allay and his daughters Soney Allay (Thapa) and Sushma Allay (Thapa). All of them have died (in the landslide). I don’t know where to send my son," said Archala.
In another room, Maya Sharma wants to perform the last rites of her family members but in the cramped school, there is no space.
Eleven people in Maya’s family – father Ram Lal Sharma, brothers Krishna Prasad Sharma and Mahesh Sharma (Subedi), and the siblings’ wives and children – have either died or are missing in the landslide at Limbu Gaon.
Maya and four of her sisters, Kumari, Laxmi, Manisha and Sanjana, are married.
In another room, Mamata Thapa, 34, is spending the night with her 21-month-old daughter Priyana. "We just have a tarpaulin sheet over the cement floor. We all need mattresses as it’s difficult to spend the night," she said.
"The administration is working on war footing to reconstruct the village but with the loss of so many lives it will take times for the wounds to heal," the accompanying GTA official said.
The toll in landslide-battered Darjeeling Hills district, of which the picturesque Mirik is a part, is 40 while 16 people are still missing, an official of West Bengal’s Disaster Management Department said.
The calamity-struck area is four-hour journey from Darjeeling town.
About 95,000 people were affected and 1900 homes flattened all over the Darjeeling Hills district including Kurseong with Mirik being the worst-hit, the disaster department official said.
The calamities were triggered by heavy overnight rain in the mountainous zone famed for aromatic tea on July 1 early morning swamping homes, washing away highways and throwing normal life out of gear.