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West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee visits landslide-affected areas in Darjeeling

West Bengal CM Mamata BanerjeeWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said she was travelling by road to the worst affected areas of landslide-hit Darjeeling district that claimed 29 lives.

Ms Banerjee said, ‘I started early this morning by road to reach the spot which was affected most by landslide. A road journey of normally one hour is taking six hours because of rubble caused by landslide.

Three villages have been particularly affected. Community kitchens have been set up for hundreds of people, she tweeted.

The CM reached here last night and took updates from the local administration about the extent of rescue work in Mirik, Kalimpong and other areas in Darjeeling district.

After reaching Siliguri last night, Ms Banerjee said 99 per cent of rescue work was complete. She said the state administration was working round-the-clock to complete all procedures to hand over the bodies to their families for the last rites for which assistance is being provided by the local administration.

She also focused upon the plains, where vast areas in Jalpaiguri district have been inundated due to sudden rise in water level in all major rivers. More 2,000 people have been rescued to safer place, she said.

Rescue and search operations to find out the survivors continued for the 2nd day today. The Darjeeling Disaster Management Group said whilst 29 bodies had been recovered till last night, 12 people remained missing after the landslides hit in the wee hours yesterday.

Two ‘Task Forces’ of the Army have been deployed in North Bengal since last evening consisting of 4 teams each. Each composite team comprises of nearly 60 soldiers, including medicos, engineers and signalers, defence sources here said.

The teams were deployed in Jalpaiguri district’s Mainaguri Block at Matia Chor and Uttar Padmavati including Mal Bazaar sub division. The teams are carrying flood relief stores including boats and life jackets.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju reached Darjeeling last night to assess the damage. This morning he reached Kalimpong where six bodies have so far been recovered. He said another Central team would visit Darjeeling to take take stock of the situation.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced an ex-gratia for those affected and had said Mr Rijiju would visit the devastated areas.

Ms Banerjee had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the families of those killed, while Mr Modi and GJM chief Bimal Gurung declared a relief of Rs 2 lakh each for these families. – UNI

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