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After unprecedented heavy rains, a glacial lake in Sikkim, known as Lhonak Lake, overflowed on Wednesday, resulting in the deaths of at least 18 people, leaving nearly 100 missing.

The flooding, which impcated 22,000 residents, has been labeled as the region’s most devastating in over half a century.

Sikkim experienced a rainfall of 4 inches within the initial five days of October, a rate surpassing twice its standard levels. Local authorities pinpointed the worsening of the flood due to the release of water from the state-operated NHPC’s Teesta V dam.

Officials say 98 people are missing, including 17 army personnel, as state chief secretary V.B. Pathak reported. Damaged roads and heavy rainfall have hindered rescue operations while neighboring Bangladesh remains on high alert due to the potential rise of the Teesta River’s levels.

Prabhakar Rai, the director of Sikkim’s State Disaster Management Authority, characterized the situation as “slightly grim,” noting challenges like damaged communication lines and weather-related constraints.

Amidst the disaster, around 2,500 tourists were reported stranded near the Mangan district, but plans are underway for their aerial evacuation once weather conditions improve. Recent satellite imagery indicates that nearly two-thirds of the Lhonak Lake has been drained.


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