Thursday, April 6, 2023
Nathu La in 2022. Image: Dinesh Valke.
Disasters and accidents
6 April 2023: Avalanche in Sikkim, India kills seven, injures twelve
27 March 2023: Strongest tornado since 1983 strikes Los Angeles County, California
19 March 2023: Study: floods, droughts more intense in past 20 years due to higher global temperatures
10 February 2023: Death toll from earthquake in Syria and Turkey surpasses 20,000
2 February 2023: Earthquake strikes Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang Region, China; no casualties reported
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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 kilometres 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.
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"Indian rescuers scour site of deadly avalanche for any more victims" — Reuters, April 5, 2023
Saurabh Verma. "Sikkim Avalanche: 7 Killed in Nathula, 12 Injured; MHA Takes Stock of Situation, Search Op Resumes" — News18, April 5, 2023
Zarir Hussain, Shivam Patel. "India avalanche kills seven near Himalayan pass to Tibet" — Reuters, April 4, 2023
J. A. Ballesteros-Cánovas, D. Trappmann, J. Madrigal-González, N. Eckert, M. Stoffel. "Climate warming enhances snow avalanche risk in the Western Himalayas" — Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, March 13, 2018