New Delhi, Oct 9 (EFE).- The death toll from the devastating floods in northeastern India has risen to 78, while more than 100 remain missing, officials said Monday, as rescue operations picked up speed due to improved weather conditions.
At least 34 bodies were recovered in the state of Sikkim, according to the latest figures by the State Disaster Management Authority, while 2,563 have been rescued so far.
Another 43 bodies were washed away by the waters of the Teesta River and were recovered downstream in the district of Jalpaiguri, in the neighboring state of West Bengal, Police Superintendent Khandbahale Umesh Ganpat told EFE.
A resident of Jalpaiguri was also killed, and five other members of the same family were injured, by the explosion of a mortar shell carried down by the currents of the same river.
The flash floods, among the most severe in the region, which shares borders with Nepal, China, and Bhutan, occurred on Oct.4 when the Lhonak glacial lake overflowed, affecting more than 85,000 people.
The catastrophe was exacerbated by a week of relentless rainfall in the region. The breach of the glacial lake destroyed some 14 bridges, washed away homes and roads and caused the Chungthang hydroelectric dam to overflow.
The collapse of the dam, one of the largest in India with the capacity to generate 1,200 megawatts, significantly worsened the flood situation.
On Monday, military helicopters were finally able to take part in rescue missions due to better weather conditions.
“After struggling with bad weather since the disaster occurred, the process of air evacuation of stranded tourists and local people needing urgent medical assistance has started from Lachen and Lachung,” the Sikkim government said in a statement.
Rescue teams continue to search for at least 105 people missing from several districts across the state.
Intense monsoon rains cause massive human and material losses in South Asian countries every year, primarily during the monsoon period between May and September.
The rising global temperatures due to climate change threaten increased glacial outbursts.
A study published in 2019 by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) said at least one-third of glaciers in the Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountain ranges are likely to melt, impacting millions of people in South Asia. EFE