Seven tourists were killed and a dozen injured after an avalanche struck the Gangtok-Nathu La road in Sikkim on Tuesday afternoon. “All tourists & tourist vehicles have been accounted for. The rescue operation has been called off. Details of recovered tourists will be shared later,” a statement from the NDRF informed. The search operation was called off in the evening due to inclement weather.
Search and rescue mission for those missing is underway by the Army, State Disaster Management Team and Police. The site’s videos demonstrated the magnitude of the tragedy.
According to BRO, the avalanche struck 14th mile on Jawaharlal Nehru Road connecting Gangtok to Nathu La pass at approximately 12:15 pm. An estimated 20-30 tourists were feared to be trapped under the snow along with five-six vehicles after the avalanche. “By 3 PM, 14 persons were rescued and taken to nearby Army medical facility. However, seven persons succumbed. The other seven persons were administered first aid and returned to Gangtok,” the Army said in a statement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted saying “all possible assistance is being provided to those affected” and that he was distressed by the tragedy.
“Distressed by the avalanche in Sikkim. Condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. I hope the injured recover soon. Rescue ops are underway and all possible assistance is being provided to those affected.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Centre was closely monitoring the situation.
Nathu La Pass, at a height of 4,310 metres (14,140 feet) above sea level, is situated on the border with China and is a major tourist destination.