PACHEY LANDSLIDE PULVERIZES 5 BUILDINGS Six injured, 102 relocated to safer habitations

Gangtok, 10 Jul:

Incessant rainfall triggered a massive landslide at Pachey in Pakyong, East Sikkim, at around 8:30 a.m. this morning which washed out five buildings of the area and left six people injured including an 80-year-old woman.

According to local residents, around 200 metres above the Pakyong-Machong road at Pachey continuous rainfall for the past few days had loosened the earth and a minor slide was visible on Sunday. Stones were also falling down the slope, but no one thought this to be potentially disastrous.

“It had been raining for the past three days here. We thought the stones would stop falling eventually. In the morning today, stones were still falling so I and my son went to park our car in a safer location. Immediately after that, everything got washed out in front of our eyes,” said Bhakta Bahadur Gurung, whose house was also washed away in the slide.

The owners of four other buildings that got swept away are KB Gurung, CK Subba, Manish Agarwal and Bishnu Bhakta Dhital.

“We are safe because the landslide hit the area in the morning hours when we were all awake. It would have been a different scenario if this incident had occurred at night or even in the early morning hours. A lot of lives would have been lost. We are lucky that we are safe and alive but we have lost everything, from money to documents to our home,” said Mr Gurung.

The injured persons have been identified as Sujita Chettri (43), Chandra Kala Subba (80), Dil Kumari Rai (35), Sashi kala Gurung (52), KB Gurung (58) and Abishek Rai (13).

“We reached the landslide spot and saw the landslide was still active and was slowly moving down. We saw an old lady being swept along with the slide. We managed to rescue her somehow but she was severely injured and terrified at the time of rescue,” said one of the Police personnel, Lha Tshering Lepcha, who rescued the 80-year-old woman.

As per the information received from the Pakyong Primary Health Centre, out of the six injured persons, two [KB Gurung and Abishek Rai] were discharged after being given First Aid while the rest have been referred to STNM Hospital for further treatment, informed Dr Tshewang Donka of PHC Pakyong.

Besides the five buildings that got buried and the six injured persons, buildings in and around the area of landslide belonging to PR Dahal, RB Gurung, KN Pokhrel along with four more buildings below the road towards the SDM Office have been found to be in danger and, thus, unfit for habitation.

“Arrangements are being made by the concerned department and relief camp has been established,” said one of the officials.

There were 24 people living in the buildings that were washed away, some of whom have now been shifted to the PWD guest house while some have moved in with their relatives.

Furthermore, 17 families which include 78 people from the area have been relocated to the RMDD guest house and annexe building of SDM office.

It was informed that the moment the landslide occurred, local youth immediately rushed to the spot to rescue people and were later joined by Police, Fire personnel, a team of NDRF and officials from the District Administration.

Area MLA, Minister DT Lepcha, District Collector-East Prabhakar Verma, Sub Divisional Magistrate-Pakyong, Additional Director General of Police-Law & Order, Akshay Sachdeva, Superintendent of Police-East, Tenzing Loday Lepcha, Chief Medical Officer and other concerned officials visited the area accompanied by Special Secretary-LR&DMD, Rinzing Chewang, Additional Director-SSDMA, GC Khanal, along with a team of geologists who reviewed the situation. The team of geologists will carry out a detailed survey of the landslide affected area.

During his visit, Area MLA Mr Lepcha personally supervised the operations and issued directions for the provision of all necessary support and relief materials to the victims.

SDM-Pakyong informed that they are busy with the rescue and relief operations as this was their first and prime priority and will assess the losses later.

The Power Department has been directed to cut off the power supply in the area immediately to avoid any mishaps, and the PHE Department has also been directed to cut the water supply in the area that runs above the landslide area.

All the line departments have been alerted to restore essential services immediately. It has been further informed that ex-gratia to the affected will be released as per the SDRF norms.