NAMCHI, 14 June: Seven persons are feared dead in a road mishap reported on NH 31A late last night. The accident, involving a Mahindra Maxx [SK-04J-0452], occurred near Nam Khola [between Kirena and Tar Khola], a short distance ahead of West Bengal Melli towards Rangpo on NH 31A between 11 to 11:30 a.m. last night. Only one passenger survived the mishap when was thrown off the hurtling vehicle before it plunged into the Teesta. It was only after a disoriented and bloody Kiran Subba climbed his way back to the road and was recognised by a passenger in a passing car that people came to know of the accident. He has sustained grievous injuries and is currently under treatment in Siliguri.
While what caused the accident is not known thus far, the vehicle plunged around 150 feet off the road into the Teesta. The terrain does not lend itself well to search and rescue efforts and this is borne out by the fact that although news of the accident spread within hours, none of the bodies of the people feared killed in the mishap have been traced thus far. As for the vehicle, parts of it, it is informed, were spotted about 3 kms downstream from where the vehicle went off the road last night.
The vehicle was proceeding from Kitam in South Sikkim to Gangtok, it is learnt. The late travel was necessitated when Suman Subba [one of the passengers killed in the mishap] learned that his mother, Dhan Kumari Subba, undergoing treatment at the Central Referral Hospital in Gangtok had passed away. The group was rushing to Gangtok to bring back the dead body.
Those feared killed in the mishap are: Durga Mani Pradhan (30), the owner and driver of the vehicle; Amardeep Subba (26), Suman Subba (17), Mohan Subba (18), Umesh Subba (25), Sujal Subba (16) and Bikash Subba (21). All of them hailed from Kitam. It was further informed that except Durga Mani Pradhan and Amardeep Subba, all the rest were related.
The search operations, jointly undertaken by West Bengal Police and Sikkim Police along with the relatives and the local people, continued throughout the day today but remained fruitless because no traces of those feared killed could be found.
This was the second fatal road mishap reported yesterday. In an accident reported earlier in the day from Gyalshing in West Sikkim, a 59 year old woman was killed and eight others injured when a passenger jeep plying from Gyalshing to Lungchok skidded off the road and plunged down 70 feet at Sakyong.