In a letter to the Chief Minister of Sikkim on Wednesday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed sadness and offered prayers over the loss of lives in the northeastern Indian state after heavy rains caused a glacial lake to overflow, causing severe flash flooding.
The Tibetan spiritual leader also promised that funds would be donated by the Dalai Lama Trust to support relief and rescue efforts.
According to the latest figures at the time of writing, the death toll from the floods – considered one of the worst disasters to hit the region in 50 years – now stands at at least 40 people, with more than 100 people affected. disappeared.
“I offer my condolences to the families who lost their loved ones as well as others affected by this disaster, and I pray for their well-being,” His Holiness wrote to the state chief minister, Prem Singh Tamang.
“I commend the state government and other concerned authorities for all they are doing to provide relief to those affected by this calamity. In solidarity with the people of Sikkim, I have requested the Dalai Lama Trust to donate towards the relief and rescue efforts. (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Floodwaters swept across the Teesta River valley in Sikkim on Tuesday evening, triggered by a downpour on a mountain lake and water released from a nearby dam into the Teesta River. The flood destroyed the dam's electrical infrastructure before sweeping away towns and villages downstream, washing away homes, roads and bridges, and forcing thousands of people to flee.
Media reports said about 2 people have been rescued since Wednesday, and 400 injured were taken to hospital in the state's worst flooding since October 26, when about 1968 people were killed.
“We are evacuating (people) with the help of helicopters provided by the Army and Air Force,” Sikkim Chief Secretary Vinay Bhushan Pathak said today. (Al Jazeera)
Search and rescue personnel have been deployed across Sikkim and northern areas of the neighboring state of West Bengal. Affected areas remain on alert.
“Road connectivity between districts has been cut and bridges have been washed away,” the chief minister said today. (BBC News)
According to the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority, more than 22 people were affected by the disaster. State authorities set up 000 relief camps in response. A state official said some 26 people were now housed in the camps.
The state meteorological department said Sikkim received 101 millimeters of rain in the first five days of October, more than double the normal levels for this time of year.
“We thought the water level would not rise because it was very low, but as water leaked out of the dam, the levels started to rise slowly and after the dam broke, our houses been washed away by the waters,” said Keval Tamong, a resident of Sikkim. (Al Jazeera)
The floods are the latest in a series of extreme weather events that have caused widespread damage in the Himalayan region in recent years - events blamed by scientists on climate change, the Reuters news agency reported.
“Water levels have receded in some areas, but north Sikkim has been completely isolated. "Rescue teams are unable to reach the affected areas," state official Tseten Bhutia told Reuters, adding that mobile and landline phone networks were not working in the area.