"Saddened by the loss of precious lives due to an avalanche in East Sikkim. Search and Rescue Ops are being carried out by the Indian Army, SDRF and other agencies. My deepest condolences to the bereaved families. Praying for the speedy recovery of the injured," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted
As per information shared by Inspector General for Checkpost, Sonam Tenzing Bhutia, "Passes are issued for only 13th mile, but tourists are going to 15th Mile without permission. The incident took place in 15th mile."
The SP has stated that the tourists had gone to the not permitted 17th Mile mark aslo, when the avalanche struck.
Nathu La Pass, at a height of 4,310 metres (14,140 feet) above sea level, is situated on the border with China and is a major tourist destination.
Approximately 5-6 vehicles along with 20-30 tourists on way to Nathu La are feared to have been stuck under the snow, said the Army.
Rescue and clearance operations are underway, a senior police official said, as quoted by news agency PTI.