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Landslide toll increases to 40; 16 persons missing

Damaged road in Darjeeling

Darjeeling:  With the recovery of two more bodies, the toll in landslide-battered Darjeeling district has risen to 40 even as 16 people still missing.

The two bodies were pulled out from the debris at Mirik and Kalimpong and 16 people are missing from Kalimpong Block 1 and 2, an official of West Bengal’s Disaster Management Department said.

Rescue operations were underway in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong sub divisions, where multiple landslides had also washed away highways and damaged homes.

Darjeeling District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava said the landslide-affected people were put up in camps and three such camps were set up in Mirik where 200-250 families have been sheltered.

National Disaster Response Team, Civil Defence personnel and local volunteers were engaged in the rescue work.

Rescue teams from the Sashastra Seema Bal and the National Disaster Management Authority have also been pressed into service.

Though it was not raining today, the sky was overcast. Rescue was hampered at Mirik evening yesterday due to a downpour.

The DM said the roads where minor landslips occurred have been cleared while the ones with major landslides, like Siliguri-Kalimpong route, will take some time.

The landslides had caused extensive damage to NH-10 and NH-55, cutting off vital road links to the region.

Toy train services between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri also remained suspended following damage to the tracks.

Boulders had rolled down on the tracks at Nimkidara, 2 km from Darjeeling, Darjeeling Station Manager Suman Pradhan said.

Even after the boulders could be removed, tracks were found to be damaged leading to the suspension of the toy train service, he said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the deceased in landslides.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and deputed Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju to rush to the area.

Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) chief Bimal Grung had announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.

The chief minister yesterday visited areas in Mirik which were worst affected by landslides, met families of the victims and distributed relief and cheques.

Banerjee reached the affected area taking a detour as the road was damaged by landslides.

Rijiju visited relief camps in Tingling area besides meeting the injured in hospitals.

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