A massive avalanche hit the popular tourist spot Nathu La in Sikkim on Tuesday with many tourists feared to be trapped under the snow.
Early reports indicate that around 80 tourists are still trapped in the area. The injured are being brought to the state capital Gangtok's hospital. "Rescue and clearance operations are still on," a senior police official here said. Nathula Pass is situated on the border with China and is a major tourist destination because of its scenic beauty.
Till 4 pm, seven bodies were brought out of the snow and 23 people were rescued alive, including six tourists from a deep valley, a state government official said, quoting reports from the Army. Among those dead are a woman and a child, he said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Centre was closely monitoring the situation, and the teams of the NDRF will reach the area -- between Milestones 13 and 17 -- soon. "My sincerest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in the tragic avalanche in Sikkim. We are closely monitoring the situation and the teams of NDRF will reach the affected area soon. I pray for the speedy recovery of those injured," he tweeted.
Some 350 people and 80 vehicles, which were stranded on the road because of the snow blocking the road from Nathu La, were also brought back, officials said.
(With inputs from PTI)