An avalanche in India’s northeastern state of Sikkim on Tuesday killed at least seven people, with several more people feared trapped, the Indian army said.
The army said five to six vehicles carrying up to 30 tourists on the way to Nathu La, a mountain pass between Sikkim and the Chinese region of Tibet, were feared to have been stuck under the snow when the avalanche hit.
“We are yet to ascertain how many people are still trapped. 17 people have been rescued, out of which 8 are very critical and have been moved to a hospital,” senior police official Tenzing Loden Lepcha told Reuters on phone.
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 that when the avalanche hit, people were taking photographs near a stream.
An ANI video showed local residents crowding around rescue workers and filming videos on mobile phones at the site of the accident.
Thousands of tourists flock to Sikkim every year, also known as the “Land of Mystic Splendour,” located below Mount Khangchendzonga, also known as Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world.
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 Uttarakhand region.
Associated Press contributed.