An unspecified number of people are feared trapped after a large piece of rock, estimated to measure about 150 metres, broke off a hillock and crashed down on a stretch of the national highway connecting Sikkim with Bengal.
One body was recovered and three injured persons were rescued had been rescued till 8.30 am, officials said.
“Three persons have been rescued including two boys. A body of a truck driver has been recovered. It is suspected that two more may be trapped in the debris. Rescue teams are working,” said the Amit P Javalgig, the district police superintendent.
The incident happened between 5 am and 5:30 am on Thursday. It was not possible to ascertain immediately how many vehicles or people might be buried under the landslide which took place at Bhotebhir on NH10, about 1 km from Rangpo which marks the Bengal-Sikkim border. It is 75 km from Siliguri in West Bengal.
NH10 is the only major road that connects Sikkim with the rest of the country and all movement of tourists, military and government and private vehicles comes to a halt if this road remains blocked. The state has no airport or rail connectivity, thereby cutting it off.
“A landslide took place on NH10 at Bhotebhir near Rangpo on Sikkim border where the GREF (General Reserve Engineering Force) was widening the road. Police and GREF have reached the spot. Early reports indicate one person is dead and two are injured. More vehicles may be under the debris and rescue work is on,” said Anurag Srivasta, district magistrate.
The Border Roads Organisation, parent body of the GREF, is active in widening the roads in the area and locals believe that the blasts they carry out for construction could have triggered the landslide.