NEW DELHI: The rain fury in Uttarakhand abated on Wednesday, but northern Bengal and Sikkim was battered by heavy showers, affecting normal life. Landslides halted traffic on National Highway-10, the main road linking Sikkim capital Gangtok with the rest of the country. Attempts were on to remove the debris from the road to reopen it at least partially. Torrential showers in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri districts of northern Bengal triggered landslides causing damages to roads and bridges, halting or constricting traffic in various places, officials said. Hundreds of tourists are stuck in the hill stations of the region, unable to reach the nearest rail station of the airport at Bagdogra. Supporting pillars of a steel bridge at Rangpo, the gateway to Sikkim, were also damaged as the Teesta river swept embankments at many points. Police have started restricting movement of vehicles on the bridge. Supporting pillars of the Rangpo bridge has been washed away3,800 cusec water was released from Bengal’s Gajaoldoba Teesta Barrage, causing inundation in several parts of the low lying town of Jalpaiguri. Another bridge on the Balason river at Matigara on the outskirts of Siliguri in Darjeeling district also got damaged. Siliguri Police Commissioner Gaurav Sharma said vehicles have been diverted to another route owing to the damage to the bridge, while motorcyclists and pedestrians have been allowed to use it. The met department issued a ‘red’ alert for Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Alipurduar, forecasting “extremely heavy rain at one or two places” in these districts till Thursday morning. Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar are likely to receive very heavy rain during the period, it said. Weather in West Bengal’s southern districts, which received heavy rain since October 17 owing to a low-pressure system, improved considerably on Wednesday. Elsewhere in Uttarakhand, there was some respite on Wednesday as the rain fury abated. Connectivity to the popular tourist destination of Nainital was restored with Haldwani and Kaladhungi roads being partially opened, allowing many stuck for days to move out. The Gaula river has damaged the tracks at Kathgodam railway station in Nainital, and the repair work can take four or five days. By Wednesday morning, most of the water had receded from the roads in Nainital, where movement had become nearly impossible after Naini lake overflowed. Electricity supply and telephone connectivity, badly hit by the rains, have been restored in the town. But villages on the outskirts remain affected, officials said. Forty-six people have died due to the rains since Sunday night, majority of them in Nainital district. Some are still feared buried under the debris of collapsed houses. Eleven people remained missing, and many villages are without electricity as authorities took stock Wednesday of the aftermath of the rains that battered the state for over two days. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said it has rescued over 1,300 people from flood-affected areas. Six NDRF teams are deployed in Udham Singh Nagar, two teams each are stationed in Uttarkashi, Chamoli and one each in Dehradun, Champawat Pithoragarh and Haridwar. The weather cleared up Wednesday morning but authorities faced the challenge of rescuing people trapped under debris and restoring road and power links to places cut off by the rains. Chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami toured rain-hit areas in Kumaon region, instructing officials to prepare an estimate of the damage.

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