The official death toll in West Bengal and Bihar following Sunday’s earthquake, whose epicentre was in Sikkim, has risen to 10.
Darjeeling district magistrate Saumitra Mohan said most of the old buildings of the hills had developed cracks and in many cases walls had caved in and roads had sunk.
The district magistrate’s office in Darjeeling, his residence and the old secretariat building of Darjeeling town showed serious fractures. The treasury office in Kalimpong has been shifted to the town hall.
Deputy magistrate Namo Sherpa escaped narrowly. “I was in my chamber when the earthquake occurred. I went under the table. Within seconds the debris from the ceiling including bricks and wooden planks began to fall all around me. However, I remained unhurt.”
Walls and ceilings of building of most of the old schools including Loreto Convent, St Teresa’s and Mount Hermon were dented. “Around 125 schools in the Darjeeling sub-division alone have been affected,” said Binay Dewan, president, Janmukti Secondary Teachers' Organisation.
In Darjeeling district, Pushpa Agarwal, 34, died when heaps of debris fell on her. Bhim Tamang of Gorubathan and Vinod Agarwal of Siliguri died of head injuries. An old woman reportedly died due to a cardiac attack in Darjeeling after the quake.
In Bihar the death toll in the state climbed to three with one reported from Bakhtiyarpur in Patna district.
However, the police are verifying whether the man died because of the earthquake. Principal secretary Vyasji said: “We have been spreading awareness about earthquakes for the past couple of years through posters and flexi boards, but people forget them when the emergency strikes. The awareness campaign needs to be continuous.”
Bihar State Disaster Management Authority vice-chairman Anil Kumar Sinha said, “We are writing to all district magistrates to ensure that dos and don’ts about quakes are shown in cinema halls and displayed at public places and schools.”