The mishap brought back memories of the grim tragedy at Tingling in Mirik a year ago when 19 people of Limbu Gaon were killed by a landslide triggered by more than 48 hours of incessant rainfall.
The death toll in today’s landslide may have been lower, but like the Tingling incident, the houses of the two families at Fenchaytar Village in Gairigaon under Lodhoma GP were located on a steep slope, aggravating the damage.
The Darjeeling district administration confirmed the deaths and said help and relief materials had been arranged. “Three persons died in a landslide that occurred at Fenchaytar village at four this morning. Their bodies were recovered around 5.30am and sent immediately for post-mortem to the Darjeeling district hospital. Relief materials to another family residing in the area, whose house was damaged, have been provided and they have been shifted to a relief centre nearby,” said Darjeeling district magistrate Anurag Srivastava.
|3 killed in Lodhoma Darjeeling landslide|
Dipen Limbu, a local resident, said, “There were only two houses where the accident occurred; the other houses are located at some distance away. We came to know about the tragedy only later. Locals searched for the bodies and found them huddled in a single room. It seems they were sleeping at the time of the landslide.”
Lok Bahadur Limbu and his family who live nearby miraculously escaped death even though half of his house was damaged by the landslide. Lok Bahadur had gone out to drink tea while his father and son were sleeping in the room that was not touched by the landslide. “Call it luck or God’s will, but Lok Bahadur and his family escaped sure death. He was outside the house while his son and father were in another room,” Dipen said.
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief executive and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung reached Fenchaytar village to interact with the affected and took stock of the situation. “Our party president visited the area and talked to the affected. The GTA is planning to build a house for Lok Bahadur and relief materials have been provided to them. They will be shifted to a relief camp at the local community hall,” said Prakash Gurung, the GTA Sabahsad of the area.
Meantime, the district administration said debris and rock accumulated on various stretches of NH-10 - the arterial link that connects Sikkim with the rest of the country and part of which falls in Darjeeling district – had been cleared and vehicular movement resumed. The Darjeeling hills are witnessing heavy to very heavy rainfall over the past three-four days and the district administration is on high alert. Rainfall recorded in the past 24 hours in Darjeeling was 87.9mm while in Kalimpong it was 39.9mm, Kurseong 57.9mm and Siliguri 82.40mm.