Hundreds of people were gathered in the river and along its banks during as part of the religious festival Durga Visarjan where the idol of the Goddess Durga is immersed in the waters of the river. However, the river rose swiftly and unexpectedly at around 20:00 hours 05 October 2022, sweeping away dozens of the gathered onlookers.
In a statement on 06 October, Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, said 8 people have lost their lives and 13 people are being treated for injuries at a nearby hospital.
Around 70 people were rescued by the efforts of the police, Civil Defence Volunteers and local youth. “I commend their selfless service,” the Chief Minister said.
More people are feared missing and search and rescue operations by National and State Disaster Response Forces are underway.
The Chief Minister announced compensation for the families of the deceased and injured. “I pray that their families find strength and solace in these difficult times,” she said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed his condolences to families. “Anguished by the mishap during Durga Puja festivities in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. Condolences to those who lost their loved ones,” he said.
Deeply saddened to learn that 8 people drowned and several others went missing after they were swept away in the Mal river flash floods during idol immersion on Vijayadashami in Bengal’s Jalpaiguri. My sincerest condolences to their families in the hour of grief. Om Shanti. pic.twitter.com/igtnk8dCz8
— Vijayasai Reddy V (@VSReddy_MP) October 6, 2022
Massive flash flood during immersion of Durga idol in Jalpaiguri. At least 7 devotees confirmed dead so far.#Jalpaiguri #flashflood #rain #GlobalWarming #IndiaToday #indiatodayflash pic.twitter.com/oBJXJvjd1Y
— Dipaneeta Das (@Dipaneeta971) October 5, 2022
Anguished by the mishap during Durga Puja festivities in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. Condolences to those who lost their loved ones: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) October 5, 2022