A vehicle that got washed away lies atop a submerged building after flash floods triggered by a sudden heavy rainfall swamped the Rangpo town in Sikkim, India, Thursday, 5 October 2023 (AP)

Death toll rises to 14 after India cloudburst as just one missing soldier found

Extent of damage is such that parts of a dam were swept away – draining a lake of two-thirds of its water

At least 14 people were killed and 102 are missing in northeastern India after flash floods triggered by sudden heavy rainfall swamped several towns and washed away parts of a dam.

Lhonak lake in Sikkim state burst its banks on Wednesday and caused serious flooding, which authorities said has impacted 22,000 people and has become the latest deadly weather event in a mountainous region in south Asia that is being blamed on the climate crisis.

Among the missing are 22 soldiers, and the Indian army is carrying out extensive search and rescue operations to trace them. Some army camps and vehicles were submerged under mud following the floods. The army has managed to rescue only one soldier out of the 23 troops who had earlier been reported missing.

The extent of the damage to infrastructure is such that parts of a key dam linked to the state’s biggest hydro power project, apart from parts of a highway that joins Gangtok – the state capital – with the rest of the country were both washed away. The serious nature of the damage has impacted the hydro power project and the cost of rebuilding key infrastructure will run into millions of rupees, said officials.

Eleven bridges were swept away by floodwaters as well. The floods struck pipelines and damaged or destroyed more than 270 houses in four districts as well.

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