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Sikkim Flash Flood: State Government Urges Tourists To Postpone Travel Plans

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Over 3,000 tourists, including foreigners, are stuck in various parts of Sikkim.


As a flash flood left a trail of destruction in Sikkim, the government on Thursday urged people who are planning to visit the Himalayan state soon to postpone their programs till the situation normalises. The state administration also requested those stranded in the flood-hit Mangan district not to panic, as the authorities concerned would start an evacuation process on Friday. According to estimates, over 3,000 tourists, including foreigners, are stuck in various parts of Sikkim.

“In view of the unprecedented situation created by flooding in the Teesta River, all the tourists planning to visit Sikkim are advised to postpone their travel to a later date till the situation normalises,” the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department said in an advisory.

The department also assured those stranded in Mangan district that the state government would extend all possible help and support in the “evacuation process starting on October 6, subject to weather conditions”, it said.

The advisory comes hours after Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang asked officials to stop issuing permits to tourists in popular destinations like Tsomgo Lake, Baba Mandir, and Nathula on Friday.

The Tourism and Civil Aviation Department also said that all the tourists stranded in the Lachung and Lachen areas are safe, and nothing adverse has so far been reported about them.

Speaking on the state government’s advisory, the Indian Association of Tour Operators’ immediate past president, Pronab Sarkar, said it would not have any negative impact on the travel industry as this was a “short-term measure”.

“There will be no negative impact on the travel sector during the upcoming holiday season. The situation will improve gradually and will normalise soon. So far, there is no report of cancellation of tours to Sikkim,” Sarkar told PTI.

Kolkata-based tour operator Kudu Special’s proprietor, Soumitra Kundu, said the postponement of tours would be tough in the peak season as the availability of train tickets and hotel rooms for a deferred travel plan is difficult.

In another advisory, the Sikkim government appealed to all the hoteliers, travel agents, tourist taxi drivers, and other stakeholders of the tourism sector to come forward to extend all possible support and assistance to the stranded travellers in view of the flood situation in the Teesta river basin.

The department requested “all tourist taxi drivers and stakeholders to stand united in extending necessary help to the tourists by keeping normal or reasonable fares and rates of taxis, accommodation units, etc. at this hour of distress”.

Earlier in the day, the Indian Army arranged satellite phones and made them available for the stranded tourists to speak to their near and dear ones from inaccessible locations in north Sikkim, which has been affected by the flash flood in the Teesta River.

Army and NDRF search teams continued to work their way through the slush in the Teesta river basin and downstream north Bengal for the second day on Thursday in search of people who were swept away by the flash flood, officials said.

Fourteen bodies have been found so far, while 102 people, including 22 army personnel, remained missing after a cloudburst over Lhonak Lake in north Sikkim in the early hours of Wednesday triggered the flash flood in the Teesta river basin, officials said.

So far, 2,011 people have been rescued, while the calamity has affected 22,034, the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) said in its latest bulletin.