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Devastation in Darjeeling, Rescue operations in full swing, Mamata, Rijiju visit affected areas

Mamata Banerjee at Tingling Primary school
Rescue operations are in full swing in the three sub-divisions of Darjeeling district where multiple landslides on Wednesday claimed 38 lives, washed away highways and damaged homes.
A fresh landslide occurred at Gayabari, 56 km from Darjeeling, cutting off road link between Darjeeling and Mirik, which alone had accounted for 21 deaths in Wednesday's landslides, an official of West Bengal's Disaster Management Department said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited areas in Mirik which were worst affected by landslides, met families of the victims and distributed relief and cheques.
Mamata reached the affected area taking a detour as the road was damaged by landslides.
"Visited the spot where landslide was worst. Met families of victims and those affected in the area. Handed over more cheques to families. Distributed relief and visited community centres where affected families are," Mamata said in a statement. "The 3 community kitchens are open. Met more people affected there. The Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, DG Police also visited," she said.
The Chief Minister had on Wednesday rushed to Siliguri from Murshidabad and announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the deceased in landslides.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and deputed Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju to rush to the area.
A Central team, headed by Rijiju, had visited the landslide-hit areas in Kurseong on Wednesday and took stock of the rescue and relief operations.
Rijiju, who arrived in Kurseong on Wednesday following a directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visited relief camps in Tingling area under Kurseong sub-division where hundreds of people were rendered homeless after the disaster.
"Despite rough and hilly region and inclement weather, rescue efforts were on. It is very sad to see such catastrophic damages. So far, 38 bodies have been recovered and efforts are on to recover the remaining missing people. "We will give assistance for immediate relief and also provide help for reconstruction," he told PTI on Wednesday night.
Rijiju, along with Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia and officials of Home Ministry and NDRF, visited hospitals and met hundreds of injured people.
Immediate reliefs are being provided to all needy people, he said.
Bimal Gurung, Gorkhaland Council Chief, state government officials along with NDRF and SSB officials were accompanying the Minister.
On Thursday, the team visited Kalimpong areas.
"All efforts are being made for rescue and relief operation by combine efforts of the state and Central governments," he said.
National Disaster Response Team, Civil Defence personnel and local volunteers carried rescue work in the affected areas.
Rescue teams from the Sashastra Seema Bal and the National Disaster Management Authority have also been pressed into service.
The landslides in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong sub-divisions had caused extensive damage to NH-10 and NH-55, cutting off vital road links to the region.
Efforts were on to clear the roads to facilitate the return of the tourists to the plains.
An Army official said two task forces have been deployed in north Bengal since Wednesday evening comprising four teams each. Each composite team comprises nearly 60 soldiers including medics, engineers and signallers, he said. The teams are deployed in Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Darjeeling districts. The teams are carrying flood relief stores including boats and life jackets, the official said. PTI

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