Five people, including three police officers, were killed in accidents caused by landslides as of Friday afternoon, and around 400 tourists have been stranded as heavy rain lashed the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim in recent days.
Authorities in northern Sikkim, home to some of the most popular tourist destinations such as Yumthang and Gurudongmar, have asked tourists not to visit the region for the next few days.
Tourists traveling in at least 40 vehicles were stranded in places like Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang in northern Sikkim on Thursday.
“Roads connecting Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang to the other parts of Sikkim including the capital Gangtok have been damaged in several places by landslides. The road between Lachung and Chungthang has been completely cut off,” said AB Karki, district collector of manganese.
Efforts have been made to rescue stranded tourists while authorities try to drive light vehicles through the dangerous routes.
Although most parts of Sikkim have been raining continuously for more than 48 hours, National Highway 10, which connects West Bengal and Sikkim, was open until the latest reports came in.
The NH-10 is considered the lifeline of the Himalayan state, which shares international borders with Nepal, Bhutan and the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China
“The condition of the roads is extremely bad and tourists have been advised not to travel to North Sikkim for the next few days. There are weather forecasts for heavy to very heavy rainfall. Flash floods and downpours could endanger lives in the region and it is necessary to take proper precautions before traveling to the region,” Karki said.
It has been raining continuously in the neighboring hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal and minor landslides have been observed in the region.
“The district administration is well prepared for all eventualities. As of Friday afternoon there have been no reports of damage to property or life,” said R Vimala, the district judge for Kalimpong, through which the NH10 travels.