Wednesday, June 27, 2007


2 killed in landslides at night

Houses go down in swirl of water

Boulders crash on bypass

Gangtok: Last night’s incessant rainfall caused a landslide in Taktse area of Bojhoghari in Gangtok . A nine-year-old boy and his grandfather were killed when the house they were living in at Bojoghari was washed away by heavy rains last night.
Three others — the parents of the dead boy and his sibling — escaped with minor injuries after they were warned of a landslide by an alert neighbour. They rushed out of the house, 3 km from here, moments before it went down.
However, Karma Thapa and his grandfather, 68-year-old Om Bahadur Mangar Thapa, could not make it in time and were buried under the debris. Kalpana Tamang and Man Bahadur Thapa are yet come out of the shock of losing their only son. The bodies have been handed over to the family after post-mortem.
Another kutcha house was destroyed at the same time, around 12.30 am, after it had rained heavily for five hours. Nobody was inside it then.
Gopi Bhattarai, the alert neighbour, first felt a tremor and thought it was an earthquake. Soon he realised that a part of the hill was being washed away along with the house. Immediately, he started screaming so that the family could come out of the house.
The approach road to Taktse from the North Sikkim highway, around 300 ft above the landslide-hit area, has also developed cracks.
R.P. Chingapa, the relief commissioner, who is also the secretary of the land revenue and disaster management department, visited the site this afternoon along with the additional district collector, Naveen Chettri.
At Swastik, near here, a Maruti van that was parked along the road was smashed when a tree fell on it.
The heavy shower has also put Indira Bypass in danger. A few days ago, landslides had sealed the route — closed since then — and endangered five buildings above the bypass. Last night, a few more boulders had come crashing down on the road.
Tomorrow, a meeting has been called in the chamber of the relief commissioner to discuss the precautionary measures needed to keep the bypass functional in monsoon.
The Border Roads Organisation is in charge of clearing the route, but the pace of work has slowed down, as the boulders are being removed manually. Experts fear that the use of explosives to crack boulders might lead to more landslides.
In Gangtok today, small landslides, triggered by the squall, led to traffic jams at several places on NH31A.
Small landslides were also reported at Sichey, 2 km below Gangtok, on the road to the district administrative complex.

The construction boom in the hill town is taking its toll on the fragile mountain terrain with landslides striking the area with increased frequency.