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Bijanbari displays resilience

The otherwise sunny and cheerful Bijanbari Valley was transformed into a "valley of death," enshrouded in silence, except for the occasional sobs echoing from the residences of the deceased. Amitava Banerjee reports.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2011 21:17 IST
Amitava Banerjee
Amitava Banerjee
A-man-looks-on-as-rescue-operations-continue-in-the-Bijanbari-Valley

The otherwise sunny and cheerful Bijanbari Valley was transformed into a "valley of death," enshrouded in silence, except for the occasional sobs echoing from the residences of the deceased.

Bijanbari, 38km from Darjeeling experienced the worst tragedy with the Bijanbari Little Rangeet Suspension Bridge collapsing resulting in the death of 32 persons and more than 130 injured. The dead and injured include women and children.

The incident had occurred at 5:50pm on Saturday. Despite all the odds- lack of proper rescue infrastructure, low light, difficult terrain, the local residents had displayed immense resilience which definitely had helped save a number of lives.

34 year old Robin Rai, a freelance photographer talking to HT stated "I was at the spot covering GJM President Bimal Gurung's public address and the cultural programme. When his address was midway, the accident occurred. I immediately stopped clicking photographs and undertook rescue operations."

Along with others, Rai plunged into the icy waters of the Little Rangeet River fishing out the injured. "I continued till 3am, first in the river and then at the Block Medical Hospital, helping with the injured and the referred patients."

Bir Ghimirey has a grim tale to narrate. Grimier a stringer with a vernacular daily, stated "I was getting ready to send my daily news dispatch when I heard of the accident. I immediately rushed to the spot to help in the search"

Ghimirey was not lucky enough. In the tragedy he lost his 9 year old granddaughter Niruta, and his twin granddaughter Nisha and grandson Nishan, both 2 years old. There dead bodies were recovered far away from the accident spot, washed away by the swift currents. A shell shocked Manoj Ghimirey, his son stated "I had gone to the public meet. My 9 year old daughter along with my 2 year old twins had gone separately."

Sanjog Chettri a youth had rushed into the river for rescue work. "Immediately felt a electric jolt. I shouted and made the others present disconnect a live electricity line that had dipped into the river after the bridge had collapsed" stated Chettri. Later he bought torches and handed them to fellow rescue workers.

"I have never witnessed such support by the local people to the police and district administration. Without their sincere efforts we would not have achieved much. Along with helping in relief and rescue people gave their vehicles to carry the injured not only to the Bijanbari Block Hospital but also to Darjeeling Sadar Hospital, 38 km away. There are taxi drivers who did multiple free trips to help" stated Puran Rai, Officer in charge, Poolbazar Police Station.