Siliguri/Kolkata, July 3 (IANS) The toll in the landslides-ravaged Darjeeling hills of West Bengal rose to 33, with one more body recovered on Friday, as fresh landslips and heavy rainfall interrupted rescue and relief operations, officials said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who rushed to the region on Wednesday, has been continuously monitoring rescue and relief work and visiting the affected at the camps. She assessed the damage to power lines, water supply and road connectivity along the landslide-affected routes on Friday.
According to the district administration, so far 33 bodies have been recovered while at least 11 people are still missing.
“One more body was recovered from Mechi river today (on Friday). At least 11 are missing. Rescue and relief operations are continuing but rainfall is interrupting rescue,” said Darjeeling District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava.
Banerjee said she took the “risky” landslide-affected routes to take stock of the extent of damage first hand.
“Power supply, water lines, roads and bridges have been damaged. I have instructed the roads to be rebuilt. I have been told that Kalimpong will not be able to get water for the next three to four days.
“We have requested the municipality under Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) to restore the damaged water supply line in Kalimpong swiftly,” she said at Sukna in north Bengal.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the state disaster management department and the army are jointly carrying out relief and rescue operations.
Fresh landslides near Rongpo at the Bengal-Sikkim border hampered the restoration work.
“Continuous rains and fresh landslides have been hampering our work, but if the weather permits, we will be able to resume the road link as early as possible,” said General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) in-charge R.K. Joshi.
Large parts of Jalpaiguri district are also submerged with the administration issuing a red alert with rivers flowing over the danger mark.
Banerjee has also urged the central government for Geological Survey of India (GSI) survey of Mirik, the worst affected area accounting for at least 24 deaths so far.