BY WASBIR HUSSAIN AND ANUPAM NATH from the Associated Press
GANGTOK, India (AP) — Air force helicopters rescued scores of stranded tourists Monday in India’s Himalayan northeast after a 6-year-old hydroelectric dam cracked open last week in intense rain, flooding a valley with glacial lake water and killing at least 74 people.
Officials told the Press Trust of India news agency that they recovered 34 bodies in Sikkim state since the flooding began on Wednesday, while authorities in neighboring West Bengal state have retrieved 40 bodies from the Teesta River as the floodwaters carried them downstream.
Around 100 people are still missing, police said. As weather conditions improved in Sikkim state, helicopters arrived in the worst-hit Mangan district to help some 3,000 stranded tourists.
The design and placement of the Teesta 3 dam, the biggest hydroelectric dam in Sikkim, were controversial from the time it was built. A 2019 report identified Lhonak Lake as “highly vulnerable” to flooding that could breach dams and cause extensive damage.