Himalayan Avalanche Kills Seven Tourists, ‘Affects’ up to 80

Indian rescue personnel in the state of Sikkim scrambled when a deadly avalanche struck a mountain road Tuesday afternoon.

According to multiple sources, the slide killed seven tourists and injured 20. Reports received from India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) indicated that everyone had been accounted for by Tuesday evening — but 12 people remained hospitalized.

The slide pummeled a segment of the Jawaharlal Nehru road near the state capital of Gangtok along the Indian-Chinese border. Sikkim government officials told the Hindustan Times that “many” tourists had gone beyond the required stopping point on the road when the avalanche hit.

A second slide

In all, the avalanche could have affected up to 80 tourists. Jarring images showed the aftermath and rescue efforts. NDRF workers used shovels and heavy equipment to free the victims.

Recent weather conditions in the area had been severe. And officials halted rescue operations when another avalanche cut loose shortly after the first one, the Hindustan Times reported. It’s unclear whether injuries or damage also occurred as a result of the later slide.

“There was another slide at the same location at 5:35 pm on Gangtok-Nathula road,” said an official with the Indian Army. “It has also started snowing, making the rescue operation dangerous. Accordingly, the rescue and search operations have been called off by the district administration due to fear of more slides.”

sikkim avalanche map location

Sikkim’s capital, Gangtok, bottom left. The “Sikkim avalanche,” marked at right. Photo: Screenshot


The approximately 3,400km border between India and China is a fault line of ongoing dispute. Both countries have grappled to build infrastructure in the region, where complex waterways can rapidly change the geography and even spur armed conflict.

In a tweet, Indian President Droupadi Murmu offered her condolences to those affected by the avalanches.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.