Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sikkim’s only connecting road cut off at night

Gangtok, June 17: The rain also triggered mudslides at three places on National Highway 31A, the last one at Birik that cut off Sikkim from the rest of the country around 7.30pm. The road is unlikely to be ready for traffic till tomorrow afternoon, Border Roads Organisation sources said. Earlier in the day, nearly 500 vehicles were held up for five hours because of debris on the road at 27th Mile and at Setijhora, 37km from Kalimpong.

Weather officials said the districts could experience more rain for the next 48 hours but the situation should ease up by tomorrow afternoon.

On NH31A, the mudslides occurred at 27th Mile and near Setijhora, both in Kalimpong subdivision, between 6am and 7am. The BRO sources said the highway had been cleared of debris at Setijhora and the road on that stretch was opened to traffic at 6.30pm.

But the BRO workers had a tough time clearing the mud at 27th Mile, 25km from Kalimpong, and restoring traffic on the road because of a pick-up van that had got stuck in the slush. “Two cranes struggled to retrieve the van from the slush. We managed to clear the road by 12.30pm,” said a BRO source. Some of the commuters stuck in the vehicles walked across the mudslides to avail of transport on the other side. “Around 500 vehicles were left stranded on both sides of the highway,” said an eyewitness said. The third landslide occurred at Birik, between Setjhora and 27th Mile, around 7.30pm.

The highest rainfall in the past 24 hours was recorded in Cooch Behar with 54mm, followed by Kalimpong 38mm, Darjeeling 31.8mm and Gangtok 13mm.

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