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More than 200 stranded tourists evacuated from Sikkim's Lachung

GANGTOK: More than 200 tourists have been evacuated while around 1,000 are still stranded in Lachung in Sikkim's landslide-hit Mangan district, a senior police officer said on Tuesday.

The tourists were evacuated via Chungthang and taken to Mangan town from where the vehicles have been arranged by the Transport department to take them to Gangtok, Superintendent of Police (SP) Sonam Detchu Bhutia said.

Around 150 stranded tourists were evacuated on Tuesday while 64 were evacuated on Monday from North Sikkim's Lachung and moved to Mangan town, officials said.

The district administration along with Border Roads Organisation (BRO), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other volunteers are taking the stranded tourists to safer grounds, he said.

More tourists are likely to be evacuated and moved to safer places as the day progresses, he said.

The district administration had to set up log bridges over the slides to facilitate movement by foot and by vehicles where roads were motorable, they said.

Incessant rains since June 12 wreaked havoc in Mangan, causing multiple landslides, and severing connectivity to most parts of the district. Due to the blockage of various roads at several locations, around 1,200 tourists got stranded in Lachung town, officials said.

At least six people have been killed in Sikkim due to landslides triggered by heavy rain over the past few days. The natural calamity has also damaged properties and disrupted power and food supplies and mobile networks in several areas, officials said.

The situation became grave after the collapse of the newly constructed suspension bridge at Sanklang as it was the main connection to North Sikkim and Dzongu, they said.

"Responding to the natural disaster by overcoming severe weather conditions and heavy rainfall in the region, the BRO launched restoration efforts by mobilising huge manpower and machinery to restore connectivity to North Sikkim at the earliest," a statement said.

"Swift and efficient response by a brave team of 758 BRTF under Project Swastik once again demonstrated their selfless commitment, resilience and determination in restoring vital connectivity and rescue of stranded tourists from North Sikkim," it added.

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