With the recovery of two more bodies, the toll in landslide-battered Darjeeling district has risen to 40 even as 16 people were 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.
On Friday, rescue operations continued to be hampered owing to intermittent rain in Darjeeling. Among the three roads which had been affected, the one through Kurseong has been opened, while those from Kalimpong and Mirik will take another couple of days to be functional.
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“If the rain subsides, we will open the other two roads in a day or two. Road to Mirik has been completely washed away and the one to Kalimpong is in a precarious state,” said Darjeeling District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava.
He added: “Around 2,500 people have taken shelter at 22 relief camps. Roughly, 95,000 people have been affected by the landslides. While 100 houses have been fully damaged, 650 houses have been partially damaged. Since the data is pouring in constantly, the figures might increase significantly.”
A bus service has also been started to help those stranded in the landslide-affected areas.
Two mini buses have been engaged to ferry people from Kalimpong to Siliguri via Darjeeling. Supply of essential commodities to the affected areas have been ensured, said the DM.
While National Disaster Response Team, Civil Defence personnel and local volunteers were engaged in the rescue work, teams from the Sashastra Seema Bal and the National Disaster Management Authority have also been pressed into service.
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, Station Manager of Darjeeling, 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 added.
While 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 relief worth Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the victims.
Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) chief Bimal Grung too had announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.