Gangtok, May 22: A couple hailing from Bankura died when their taxi skidded off a road near Mangan in north Sikkim and fell almost 350ft below last night.
The deceased are Sujit Kumar Neogi, a 47-year-old former army officer, and his wife Nivedita, 41, who died on the spot.
Among the eight other passengers in the taxi were the Neogi’s daughters, who were injured. The driver, too, was injured.
The daughters — Suchita, 13, and Anandita, 17 — and driver Akhtar Ali, 40, have been admitted to the district hospital in Mangan.
In the SUV with the Neogis were six first- and second-year students of the National Institute of Technology, Raipur.
They have been admitted to Central Referral Hospital in Gangtok.
The injured are: Swapnil Sharma, 19, Nivesh Agarwal, 17, Gulshan Kumar, 19, Vivek Tewari, 19, Saran Agarwal, 19 and Shashank Jramin, 19.
Saran and Nivesh Agarwal are brothers.
Around 8.30pm when the vehicle was returning to Gangtok, it skidded at 4th Mile on the North Sikkim highway, around 42km from Gangtok, while negotiating a turn.
According to the police, information of the accident was given by villagers after they heard the sound of the car rolling down.
“An immediate search-and-rescue operation was launched by Mangan police with the help of the villagers. Later, eight Jawans of Indo-Tibetan Border Police also helped in the rescue operation,” said subdivisional police officer Palden Bhutia.
According to the police, the vehicle rolled almost 350ft down the road.
Vivek Tewari, 19 who suffered head and leg injuries, said the group was to set for a Darjeeling trip today.
“We had come for a three-day trip to Sikkim. The taxi was moving slowly and suddenly there was a complete blackout. I regained consciousness in the hospital,” he said.
The students had reached Gangtok on May 19.
According to the police, they and the family (who got to know each other in Gangtok) had jointly hired the vehicle for the trip to Yumthang in north Sikkim through a local travel agent.
The group had halted at Lachung on May 20.
The doctors treating the patients at the Central Refferral Hospital said apart from Shashank, all others have suffered head and leg injuries.
“Shashank has an injury in the spinal cord and was admitted to the ICU,” said a doctor at the Central Refferal Hospital.
The bodies of the couple were handed over to a relative who reached Mangan today.
“They were very happy and excited for the trip to Sikkim,” said Gurdas Bhushal, the brother of Nivedita.
Suchita had passed her Class XII board exam and Anandita is a Class IX student.