Heavy rainfall, landslides, cuts off highway linking Gangtok

Gangtok, Oct 20 (PTI):
Torrential rains pounded the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim and the tea growing region of North Bengal, causing landslides which cut off National Highway-10, the main road linking Gangtok with the rest of the country.
Normal life in parts of the tea growing north Bengal was also affected on Wednesday as torrential showers in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri districts triggered landslides causing damages to roads and bridges, halting or constricting traffic in various places, officials said.
Hundreds of tourists, who have thronged the hills during the Durga Puja season, are facing difficulties in travelling to their next destination or reaching railway stations or the Bagdogra airport to return home, owing to the incessant rain and landslides, officials said.
The incessant downpour Wednesday saw landslides blocking the crucial National Highway-10, used both by civilian and military traffic, at the 29th Mile area in West Bengal, around 60 km from the Himalayan state’s Rangpo border. Another landslide occurred at Pani House here this morning, disrupting vehicular movement, officials said.
Attempts were on to remove the debris from the road to reopen it at least partially.
Supporting pillars of a steel bridge at Rangpo, the gateway to Sikkim, were also damaged as the powerful Teesta river which has been in spate over the past few days, swept embankments at many points.
Local police have started restricting movement of vehicles on the bridge. As the rain continued to batter the state, a large number of people have been rescued to safe places and relief materials have been sent to the affected areas.

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