Sikkim quake: Toll mounts to 71 as rain hampers rescue work
The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale ended on Sunday evening but the tremors were felt throughout Monday in Sikkim and Darjeeling as the death toll in India, Nepal and Tibet climbed to 71. Pramod Giri & Amitava Banerjee report.delhi Updated: Sep 20, 2011 11:01 IST
The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale ended on Sunday evening but the tremors were felt throughout Monday in Sikkim and Darjeeling as the death toll in India, Nepal and Tibet climbed to 71.
The toll in north Sikkim, the epicentre of the quake, rose to 41 on Monday and many more were feared dead under the debris of buildings and houses.
Nine deaths were reported from West Bengal and seven each from Bihar, Nepal and Tibet, bringing the toll outside Sikkim to 30 as rescue teams battled landslides and torrential rains to help the victims.
Panic returned to Gangtok as the sun set on Monday, with thousands of people coming out of their houses with essential belongings and heading for MG Marg, the heart of the city. They then planned to reach Paljor stadium to spend the night, fearing aftershocks.
"The national highway and state highways, all district link roads and interior roads, bridges, canals, hospitals and office buildings have been badly affected. Electricity transmission lines and water supply have also suffered major damages," said Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, declaring Monday as a state holiday.
There were reports of several landslides on National Highway 31A, the only road connecting Sikkim with the rest of the country. However, the Border Roads Organisation managed to open the highway for one-way traffic in the evening.
In Darjeeling, district magistrate Saumitra Mohan said, "Most of the old buildings of the Hills have developed cracks. In many cases, walls have also caved in, roads have sunk, landslides have been triggered and large areas have sunk."
Four hundred members of the National Disaster Relief Force and 20 doctors were stuck in Bagdogra because of bad weather and were expected to reach Gangtok on Monday night.
(With PTI inputs)
Gangtok Police helpline: +91-3592-202022 and +91-3592-202033.
West Bengal helpline: 033-22143230.
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First Published: Sep 19, 2011 08:19 IST