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Arterial Road Link Between Bengal and Sikkim Snapped as Rain Pounds two States

PTI |
NH 10, the arterial road link between West Bengal and Sikkim, was blocked by massive landslides, while swollen rivers ravaged villages along its banks.
Arterial Road Link Between Bengal and Sikkim Snapped as Rain Pounds two States

Image Courtesy: News Live TV

Kolkata/Gangtok: Torrential rain triggered multiple landslides in hill districts of West Bengal and mountainous Sikkim on Wednesday, damaging bridges, submerging highways and throwing normal life off the track, officials of the two adjoining states said.

National Highway 10, the arterial road link between West Bengal and Sikkim, was blocked by massive landslides, while swollen rivers, including the Teesta, ravaged villages along its banks.

Heavy rain set off a landslide on the highway at 29th mile in West Bengal, around 60 km from Sikkim's Rangpo border, disrupting vehicular movement. Another landslide occurred at Pani House in Gangtok. Excavators and other heavy machinery have been deployed to clear the road of the debris.

Pillars of a steel bridge at Rangpo, the gateway to Sikkim, got damaged due to heavy flow of water in the Teesta river which has been in spate over the past few days, prompting the authorities to allow only light vehicles, officials said.

Rain pounded the hill districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal as also adjoining Jalpaiguri from where incidents of landslides and damage to bridges were reported.

Video footage showed turgid rivers overflowing their banks and submerging highways in Kalimpong.

The Meteorological department issued a 'red' alert for Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Alipurduar, forecasting "extremely heavy rain at one or two places" in these districts till Thursday morning.

Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar are likely to receive heavy to very heavy rain during the period, it said.

Road connectivity in several places of Kalimpong district, linking Kalimpong town with hamlets such as Pedong, Lava and Algara, was snapped owing to landslides, officials said.

Water from the overflowing Teesta river submerged national highway 10 that connects Siliguri with Sikkim capital Gangtok at Teesta Bazar, disrupting vehicular movement, they said.

A bridge on the Balason river at Matigara on the outskirts of Siliguri in Darjeeling district also got damaged.

Siliguri Police Commissioner Gaurav Sharma said bigger vehicles have been diverted to another route owing to the damage to the bridge, while only motorcyclists and pedestrians are being allowed to use it. "We are urging people to make plans for long travel to reach their destinations owing to the diversion," he told reporters.

Hundreds of tourists, who thronged the hills during Durga Puja, are facing difficulty reaching railway stations and Bagdogra airport to return home, owing to the incessant rain and landslides.

Several low-lying areas in Jalpaiguri district have been flooded owing to rise in the water levels of Teesta and Jaldhaka rivers. An unspecified number of people from these areas were being moved to safe places, officials said.

Darjeeling received 233.8 mm rainfall, the highest in the state in 24 hours till 8.30 am on Wednesday, followed by Kalimpong (199 mm), Jalpaiguri (151 mm) and Cooch Behar (60.9 mm).

Water levels of Torsa and some other rivers in the region are rising fast owing to copious rain.

The meteorological department said inclement weather conditions will prevail in the sub-Himalayan districts till Thursday morning.

The weather in West Bengal's southern districts, which received heavy rain since October 17 owing to a low-pressure system, improved considerably on Wednesday, though the weatherman said thunderstorms with lightning at one or two places are likely during the day.

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