Panic seemed to return to Gangtok with sundown on Monday as thousands of residents came out of their homes with their essential belongings and headed for Mahatma Gandhi Marg, the heart of the city.
They were on their way to the Palzor Stadium, where they are supposed to spend the night. Rumours that there may be another aftershock are rife.
However, there was no major damage in Gangtok town and the main market at Mahatma Gandhi Marg was open.
Of the 35-odd people who died in Sunday’s earthquake, it is the bordering North District that’s affected most. Two army troopers are among the 24 whose deaths have been reported so far. Six deaths have been reported from the East, four from the West and one from the South district.
“The national highway, state highways, district link roads as well as interior road connections, bridges, canals, hospitals and office buildings have been badly affected. Electricity transmission lines and water supply have also suffered major damage,” said chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, who declared Monday a state holiday.
Chamling has directed all the MLAs to assess the damage and guide rescue and relief work in their areas. Repairing road is priority.
The army used 12 choppers for the aerial survey and rescue operations and found major damages on the roads. Till Monday afternoon 20 blockades were found on National Highway 31A.
According to the government’s initial assessments, 1,000 houses had been completely collapsed while 100,000 including the state secretariat building and police headquarters suffered partial damage.
“The army has reached the remotest areas by foot and helicopter. People were mostly outside their homes and have been taken to army camps,” said Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatiya, who did an aerial survey of the situation.
Soup kitchens have been set up at various spots.
Two districts, west and south, remained inaccessible for the army till evening and hardly any relief reached those places.