An avalanche in India’s northeastern state of Sikkim has killed at least seven people, injured 17, and trapped an unknown number of tourists.
All seven killed on Tuesday were tourists and at least 30 people are feared trapped in the snow, rescue officials said.
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The incident took place on the outskirts of Gangtok, capital of the Himalayan state, on the road to Changu Lake, police official Tenzing Loden said.
Survivors were pulled from the snow and taken to hospital for treatment after the avalanche occurred along the Nathu La pass, which is along the border with China and is a major tourist destination.
The army said five to six vehicles carrying up to 30 tourists on the way to Nathu La, between Sikkim and Tibet, are feared to be buried under the snow.
The incident took place at 11:30am (06:00 GMT), an army statement said.
“We are yet to ascertain how many people are still trapped, 17 people have been rescued, out of which eight are very critical and have been moved to a hospital,” Loden said.
Rescue officials earlier said they feared at least 70 people were under the snow.
Rescue operations were ongoing at the site, Loden Lepcha said, adding when the avalanche hit people were taking photographs near a stream.
The ecologically sensitive Himalayan region, which has been severely affected by global warming, is prone to avalanches. Last year, 27 trainee mountaineers were killed in an avalanche in the northern region of Uttarakhand.
Thousands of tourists every year flock to Sikkim, also known as the “Land of Mystic Splendour”. It is located below Mount Khangchendzonga, the third highest mountain in the world.