The death toll in Sunday’s landslides in Sikkim has reached 35 with 24 deaths confirmed only from North Sikkim where 6.8 magnitude of earthquake had its epicenter.
Toll is likely to go up. Eight employees of Teesta Urga the 1200 mw hydel project at Chungtang in North Sikkim died after their bus was buried in a landslide. The landslide triggered by earthquake hit the bus at Sapo while they were returning to the camp.
Two army jawans also died after a boulder hit their vehicle at Chateen near Lachen also in the North. According to Karma Sonam Topgey the information and public relation secretary of Sikkim government, 25 deaths have been confirmed in the state.
According to him more than 1000 houses have suffered major damages and similar numbers have suffered minor damages. According to the sate government officials who have been monitoring the situation round the clock 10 deaths from the North Sikkim have been confirmed so far.
Four have died in the West district, six in the east and 1 in south district. The worst affected Northern part of the state is still cut off from rest of the state though the National Highway 31A that connects Sikkim with rest parts of the country was opened after 1 pm on Monday.
A small team of the National Disaster Relief Force reached Sikkim in the afternoon by road and headed towards the North Sikkim where the maximum damage of human lives and properties is caused. According to D Anandanan the district collector of East only 75 persons of the (NDRF) could reach the state.
400 members of the NDRF team and 20 doctors had reached Bagdogra on Sunday night. But as the roads leading to Sikkim were closed and weather was bad they remained stranded at Bagora airport and they could make a move for Sikkim only on Monday morning.
The 17-mountain division of the army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBP) largely carried out the rescue operation particularly in North Sikkim. Stranded tourists in North Sikkim were also rescued and provided shelter by the army. 17th Mountain Division General Officer Commander (GOC) Major General S L Narasimhan told reporters a total of 84 Army columns with approximately 2500 troops have been deployed in the quake hit areas of East and North districts.
The National Highway 31 A that had more than 30 landslides at various places was opened by General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) on record time. In Ganhtok the capital of Sikkim, Enchen Monstary constructed in 1640 AD has suffered major damage and the house of a senior monk has collapsed.
Tashiling secretariat has also suffered a major damage. The state government has announced three days pubic holidays. Chief Minister Pawan Chamling visited affected places today in and around Sikkim and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh each to the kin of those killed. On day after the devastating earthquake hit the Himalayan state, people were still afraid of going back to their homes. Sita Chettri who runs a hotel in Mahatama Gandhi Road here said, “90 percent of Sikkim people spent their last night on the roads.”
At Singtam in East Sikkim where one child died most of the buildings have suffered major damage and two of them collapsed. Most of the local residents are living in safer places and said they would not go back to homes today also. D Anandanan also said, “There has been no tourist casualty and there were few numbers of them yesterday.” He also said as the National Highway 31A is opened there was no need of making arrangement for them to be taken out of Sikkim.