At least 14 people have been killed and 104 are missing following flash floods triggered by a lake outburst in north Sikkim on Wednesday. Over 20,000 people have been affected by the natural disaster in the Himalayan state.
As many as 2,011 people have been rescued, the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority (SSDMA) said. Rescue operations are underway.
Among those missing are 22 Army soldiers — one was rescued on Wednesday night. Over 20,000 people have been affected by the natural disaster. More than 3,000 tourists are feared to be stranded in different parts of the state. About 12-14 workers working in the Teesta Stage 3 dam in Chungthang are still stranded in the tunnels of the dam.
The Lhonak Lake, a glacial lake situated in the state’s northwest at 17,000 ft, burst due to incessant rains. Satellite imagery, released by ISRO, showed that nearly two-thirds of the lake seems to have been drained.
“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,” ISRO said in a statement.
Scientists and experts have warned about glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) in the region. They blame climate change and unscientific dams for the tragic event.
The flood in Sikkim that started around 1:30 a.m. was made worse by the release of water from Chungthang dam, officials told PTI. Central Water Commission (CWC) suggested that the lake burst could have been caused by the earthquake in Nepal on Tuesday.