Falling boulders block the Chazam - Doksum road on the Trashiyangtse highway yesterday afternoon (Photo: DoR)

Landslides close seven highways to traffic

A ‘small’ flashflood was reported at the sites of Cherichu in Thimphu around 8.45PM yesterday, according to Flood Monitoring and Command Room officials. An official said there was no major impact and that they are still monitoring the situation.

Heavy rains over the last few days have left about seven highways closed to traffic with about 15 blocks across the country.

The Manitar-Raidak-Lhamoizingkha highway has been blocked at Shaoja and Pepping since July 9. Executive Engineer with Department of Roads (DoR), Neten Tshering, said that road width has been cut off due to heavy rain. “The roads will be cleared after a week if the rain stops,” he said.

According to DoR, the Mongar – Pemagatshel highway is blocked at various places in the Gyelpoishing to Nganglam road since August 11. The block caused by landslides and falling boulders is likely to take more than a month to clear.

The road between Tshelingkhor and Samdrupjongkhar is expected to open to traffic by today evening. Landslides had blocked the road at four places since August 10.

DoR’s engineer, Cheki Wangchuk, said, that the Chazam to Trashiyangtse road is blocked at 7.5 km from Chazam to Doksum. “The block will be cleared today if we don’t receive any rain,” he added.

The Royal Bhutan Police on its social media page stated that as of 1PM yesterday, the Tsirang – Dagana highway was blocked at Bedulum and Gentikhola due to landslides. The update also reported a block at Nobding on the Wangdue – Trongsa highway since yesterday due to landslides.

road block map

DoR’s engineer, Kharananda Gautam, said, that the Gelephu – Tingtibi road is blocked at Ossey and Boxcut due to landslides. “The road is blocked since August 10. We are not sure when the road will be cleared,” he added.

Road officials said that the Pasakha-Manitar road, which was blocked since August 10 due to swollen river at Bhawajhora and Bhalujhora bridge point will be cleared in two days.

The Tingtibi – Gomphu road has also been blocked at 12 and 14 km due to falling boulders and landslides, according to a DoR official. The block is likely to be cleared today.

One of the engineers with DoR, Ugyen Dorji said that the Punakha to Gasa highway opened to traffic yesterday. The block at Trongsa-Zhemgang highway will be cleared today.

Meanwhile, the in-charge at the Flood Monitoring and Command Room (FMCR), Sangay Tenzin, said, that the water level on average has been receding. “South eastern parts of the country such as Gelegphu and Sarpang have increase in water level,” he said. However, officials  said that the level is not as bad as the Mangdechhu danger level, which occurred recently.

The National Centre of Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) stated that the weather in northern, western and central parts of the country would improve. It forecasts that during the next 72 hours, the southern and eastern parts of the country are expected to receive light to moderate rainfall.

Deputy Chief of the Weather and Climate Service Division, NCHM, Tayba B Tamang, said that as per the forecast, the weather will be normal in the next 72 hours.

He said that last year active monsoon which lasts for about a week or two occurred in June and July. “This year, active monsoon is occurring this month,” he added.

He said that NCHM is monitoring the weather and the public will be informed of severe weather conditions.

Senior Programme Officer with the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Jigme Chogyal, said that there has been no severe cases reported to DDM. He said that the DDM will provide assistance if the situation demands.

He added that other than the increasing river level and roadblocks across the country, the DDM didn’t receive any serious cases of disaster.

Phurpa Lhamo and Rinchen Zangmo

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