In a devastating flash flood in Sikkim that occurred on 4 October, no Bhutanese are affected. The confirmed death toll from the flash floods in Sikkim rose to 14 on 5 October with 102 people, including 22 Army personnel, still missing after the glacier-fed Lhonak lake in north Sikkim triggered a flash flood in the Teesta river basin.
Speaking to Business Bhutan, the chairman of Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC), Lukendra Rasaily, said, “At the moment, we don’t have any stranded Bhutanese in Lachen and Lachung amongst the foreigners.
Following a sudden glacial lake burst on Wednesday has claimed several lives, causing widespread damage as roads, bridges, and homes in Singatam, Chungtam, Romphu washing away bridges.
A monk residing in one of the monasteries in Sikkim said that no Bhutanese were affected by the flashflood. As most of the monks and students are in Gangtok and north Sikkim, a monk said there would be no Bhutanese in flood-affected areas.
Meanwhile, an eyewitness, Passang Deki Sherpa from Kalimpong, said that she had seen most of the Bhutanese students coming home via Kalimpong. “I met them at the Kalimpong bus stand,” she shared.
No Bhutanese official, Business Bhutan contacted, was available for the comment.
Due to a cloudburst and melting of the Lhonak Glacier, a massive amount of water was suddenly released, causing a Glacier Lake outburst flood (GLOF). The Lhonak Lake, located in the far northwest region of Sikkim at an altitude of 17,100 feet, was formed from the melting of Himalayan glaciers.
On October 10th, a total of 176 tourists were airlifted from North Sikkim due to the flash flood in the Teesta River. Since October 9th, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has evacuated 690 people, including 26 foreigners, from Lachen and Lachung towns in North Sikkim using helicopters such as the Mi-17 V5, CH-47 Chinooks, and Cheetah.
Scientists refer to this type of natural disaster as a GLOF, and the Himalayan region is brimming with potential GLOFs, with up to 7,500 predicted. Sikkim may have about 10% of the total, with 25 found to be high-risk. Although GLOFs are deadly, they can be forecasted, and they are forecasted to become even more severe.
Sangay Rabten from Siliguri