A harrowing night's tale on NH-31A | india | Hindustan Times
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A harrowing night's tale on NH-31A

Sikkim government employee Gunjala Bania and two others travelling with her did not feel the earthquake when they were returning by jeep from Siliguri in West Bengal yesterday.

india Updated: Sep 19, 2011 23:18 IST
Pramod Giri

Sikkim government employee Gunjala Bania and two others travelling with her did not feel the earthquake when they were returning by jeep from Siliguri in West Bengal on Sunday.

Once they reached Rambi, about 35 km from Siliguri, they came to know the National Highway 31A, on which they were travelling, had been hit by landslides at several places because of the earthquake and was closed.

Similar landslides had blocked the road stretch they had just crossed.

Mobile connectivity was lost and they were in a forested area. The area had no lodging facilities. However, local residents came to their rescue and offered them shelter in a makeshift temple.

Asked about their experience, the jeep driver, Nabin Pradhan, said, "We could not sleep and were prepared for the worst."

The same was the feeling of DN Gokhle from Mumbai.

Gokhle, who is visiting Sikkim for the first time, had to spend the night on Mahatma Gandhi Marg in Gangtok in the open with his wife and two relatives.

Gokhle said, "I thought we would not survive."

"When the tremor occurred, we all came out on the road, where thousands of local residents and tourists were milling around," Gokhle said.

"The hotel staff and local people were very helpful and we are going back with a memory which is a mixed one. Today we want to sleep properly and will leave the state on Tuesday with no hard feelings."

They will catch the Darjeeling Mail at New Jalpaiguri on Tuesday and board the Gitanjali Express from Howrah to reach Mumbai.

Meanwhile, the National Highway 31A, the lifeline of Sikkim, is in a precarious condition. As the road has developed cracks at many places, a downpour at this stage can make things worse.

Border Roads Organisation chief engineer Brigadier Rajiv Sawhney said a minor tremor again might prove disastrous.

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