At least 14 people have died and 104 people have gone missing, which also includes 22 army personnel due to the flash floods that occurred in a lake outburst in north Sikkim. Among the 22 army personnel, one was rescued on Wednesday night. The disaster that struck early Wednesday has created chaos in North Sikkim. The Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority – SSDMA said that approximately 2,011 people have been rescued.
Rescue operations are in the process. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken an overview of the situation on Wednesday night and has also assured all potential support to the chief minister of Sikkim.
It was on October 4 that a cloudburst over Lhonak Lake in north Sikkim created a flash flood in the Teesta River basin, said the officials. The lake outburst also led to the breach of the Chungthang Dam, which is the biggest hydropower project in the State.
The National Remote Sensing Centre, one of the ISRO centres, has organized satellite-based research on the outburst of the South Lhonak Lake in Sikkim by receiving temporal satellite images (before & after) over the water body.
“It is observed that Lake is Burst and about 105 hectares area has been drained out (28 September 2023 image versus 04 October 2023) which might have created a flash flood downstream,” was the statement released by ISRO on Wednesday.
The officials are thinking that a mixture of heavy rainfall and a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) event at South Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim may have led to the flash floods in Sikkim.
The natural disaster has affected more than 20,000 people. It is said that more than 3,000 tourists are reported to be stranded in various locations of the state. It is also reported that about 12-14 workers who were working in the Teesta Stage 3 damn in Chungthang are still deserted in the dam’s tunnels.
Here is what actually happened that caused the flood-like situation. A glacial lake located in Sikkim’s northwest at 17,000 feet that are burst due to continuous rains. This led to the water release in downstream regions. This led to the increase in water levels in Teesta River that flooded a minimum of four districts, which includes Mangan, Gangtok, Pakyong, and Namchi on 4th October 2023, Wednesday.
The above information is shared by the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) to the officials. The flood situation in Sikkim began around 1.30 AM and created chaos in the regions due to the water release from Chungthang dam, said officials to the media.
In a post on X, the Central Water Commission (CWC) said that the lake burst could have been due to Nepal’s earthquake on Tuesday, however did not reveal more details.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday shared her concern over the situation in Sikkim. Kharge said that the union government must recalibrate its plan for managing ecologically fragile Himalayan states and must declare such tragic situations happening in Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh as natural disasters so that these states get sufficient funds to rebuild themselves in a more sustainable way.