At least 23 Indian soldiers missing after Sikkim flash flood

At least 23 Indian soldiers missing after Sikkim flash flood
Source: File

New Delhi: A cloudburst on Wednesday caused a flash flood in Indian northeastern state of Sikkim, resulting in 23 soldiers being missing according to statement by Indian Army.

Flash flood caused by cloud burst, wiped out Tessta dams and many bridges in Sikkim.

The rain lashed a valley about 150km (93 miles) north of Gangtok, located along the border with China.

“Due to sudden cloud burst over Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim, a flash flood occurred in the Teesta River... 23 personnel have been reported missing and some vehicles are reported submerged under the slush,” the army said in a statement. “Search operations are underway.”

The remote area lies close to India’s border with Nepal, and Lhonak Lake sits at the base of a glacier in the snowy peaks that surround Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain.

The army said water released upstream from the Chungthang dam meant the river was already more than 4.5 meters (15 feet) higher than usual.

A video released by an Indian army spokesman showed a thick torrent of raging brown water sweeping down a thickly forested valley, with roads washed away and power lines ripped down.

Flash floods are common during the monsoon season, which begins in June and normally withdraws from the Indian subcontinent by the end of September. By October, the heaviest of the monsoon rains are usually over.

Experts say climate change is increasing their frequency and severity.