It was a harrowing evening for Indian football star Bhaichung Bhutia when earthquake struck Sikkim on Sunday evening. Bhutia, who was in his village Tinkitam in Namchi district at the time, was separated from his family who were in the state capital Gangtok.
"I was very worried because my wife and 17-month old twins were in Gangtok at the time and I could not get through to them. I eventually did manage to reach Gangtok by bus which I got after walking for almost two hours," the 34-year-old striker who drew the curtains on an illustrious career last month told HT on Tuesday. "Thankfully they were fine and so is everyone in my village."
"It was a scary thirty to forty seconds and it took us a while to figure what was happening. Tinkitam has not had much damage but north Sikkim was hit quite badly. Landslides have claimed lives and communication and transportation seems to be a problem," said Bhutia who was back in Kolkata.
At least 83 people have been confirmed dead in the quake, the rumblings of which were felt in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and most of the north-east and even as places as far flung as the capital and parts of Rajasthan. The epicenter is believed to be about 60 kilometres from Gangtok.
HT also enquired whether the players and management of United Sikkim FC, the club for which Bhutia serves as co-owner, were alright.
"That was my other immediate worry as most of my players come from the state itself. I spoke to them and they said everything was alright. There has been a little damage to our ground but nothing massive," the Sikkimese Sniper said, adding, "As of now, I want to do something for the affected people and families in my state and there is a plan to have United Sikkim FC hosting a charity match soon."