Avalanche in Sikkim, India kills seven, injures twelve

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Thursday, April 6, 2023

Nathu La in 2022.
Image: Dinesh Valke.

On Tuesday morning, an avalanche near the Nathu La pass in Sikkim, India killed at least seven tourists and, according to News18, injured at least twelve; Reuters reported eight people in critical condition Tuesday.

A cause for the avalanche has not yet been announced.

By yesterday, teams including members of the Sikkim Police and the Indian Army had rescued 20 survivors, according to Reuters, or up to 22 survivors, according to News18.

After ceasing rescue efforts on Tuesday evening, the teams resumed work yesterday morning. A police administrator explained to Reuters: "Rescue operations have resumed this morning because we want to make sure that we haven't left anyone behind. We will scour the area properly before we call them off".

The avalanche struck about 40 kilometers (25 mi) from the Sikkimese capital, Gangtok. With its state nicknamed the "Land of Mystic Splendour", Nathu La draws thousands of tourists annually; it is also used by Hindus making the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage, an especially holy pilgrimage in Hinduism according to Reuters.

A 2018 study circulated in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America determined climate change has amplified the odds of avalanches in the Western Himalayas and worsened their effects.