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Avalanche in Sikkim: understanding the Causes & preventive measures

09:11 AM Apr 14, 2023 IST | ArchitaKedia
avalanche in sikkim  understanding the causes   preventive measures

Sikkim is a beautiful state in northeastern India, known for its scenic beauty and mesmerizing landscapes. However, it is also prone to natural disasters like landslides and avalanches. Recently, in a tragic incident, an avalanche hit the Nathu La area in Sikkim on Tuesday (4th April 2023), causing severe damage to the region. Furthermore, highlights the need for better understanding and preventive measures against such natural calamities. The Border Roads Organization (BRO) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) immediately launched rescue operations to help those affected by the disaster.

What are Avalanches?

Avalanches occur when a mass of snow slides down a slope, typically triggered by a disturbance such as an earthquake, heavy snowfall, or even a loud noise. In Sikkim, the rugged terrain and heavy snowfall during winters make it a vulnerable region for avalanches. The areas that are most prone to avalanches in Sikkim are the northern and western parts of the state. These regions have steep slopes and are covered with dense snow.

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Understand the factors and how to prevent

To prevent avalanches, it is essential to understand the factors that cause them. One of the most critical factors is the slope angle, which determines the stability of the snowpack. A slope with an angle of more than 30 degrees is considered prone to avalanches. Another significant factor is the snowpack’s depth and density, with heavy, dense snowpacks being more unstable and prone to avalanches.

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Experts recommend several measures, including identifying avalanche-prone areas and issuing warnings to the local population. Building retaining walls and installing snow fences can also help prevent avalanches. In addition, regular snow monitoring and avalanche forecasting can help predict and prevent potential avalanches.

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Effects of recent avalanche

In Sikkim, the state government and local authorities have taken several measures to prevent avalanches. The state government has set up a Disaster Management Authority that monitors natural calamities and coordinates with the local population to minimize the risk of avalanches. The authorities also issue alerts and warnings to the local population through various media channels, including radio, television, and social media.

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According to the incident reported, the NDRF team, along with BRO personnel, faced numerous challenges due to the harsh weather conditions in the region. But, they continued to work tirelessly to rescue those affected by the avalanche.

The rescue operation continued for several hours, and by the end of the day, the BRO and NDRF teams were able to evacuate several people who were stranded in the area. The teams also managed to clear the roads of debris, which had been blocked due to the avalanche. Police officials have confirmed that seven individuals lost their lives and at least 13 others were injured in the avalanche. Around 25 to 30 tourists, traveling in six or seven vehicles, were believed to be trapped in the incident. Saurabh Roy Chowdhury, a resident of Siliguri town in the neighboring state of West Bengal, was among those who lost their lives in the avalanche.

The authorities have urged people living in the region to remain vigilant and take precautions in the wake of the disaster. They have also advised people to stay away from the affected areas until the situation is fully under control.

“…Police officials have confirmed that seven individuals lost their lives and at least 13 others were injured in the avalanche. Around 25 to 30 tourists, travelling in six or seven vehicles, were believed to be trapped in the incident…”

The Sikkim government has announced that it will provide financial assistance to those affected by the avalanche. Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang has expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the disaster. The state government has promised to take all necessary steps to provide relief to those affected.

Conclusion

The incident has once again highlighted the need for better disaster management infrastructure in the region. The government must take proactive steps to prevent such disasters from occurring in the future and provide timely assistance to those affected by such events.

Avalanches are severe natural calamity that requires a better understanding of their causes and preventive measures. In Sikkim, the state government and local authorities are taking steps to prevent avalanches and minimize their impact on the local population. However, there is a need for more research and investment in preventive measures to make the region safer and minimize the risk of avalanches in the future.

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