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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.
The 1200 MW power project on Teesta suffered a major setback when the dam at Chungthang was washed away in barely 10 minutes. The total cost of the project is pegged at 14000 crores. The floods were caused by a breach in Lhonak lake in Sikkim. pic.twitter.com/OBzRen6FQi— Ranadeb Bhattacharya (@RanadebBhattac2) October 5, 2023
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.
Sikkim: 23 #Army personnel have been reported missing and some vehicles are submerged under slush at Bardang near #Singtam.— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) October 4, 2023
Cloudburst over Lhonak Lake in Mangan triggered a flashflood #Teesta river in #Lachen valley, affecting army establishments along the valley. pic.twitter.com/PG5KoX4jjV
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.