Fresh tremors in Gujarat; toll reaches 20,000
Fresh tremors ranging from 3.1 to 5.9 on the Richter scale sent panic-stricken people out of their houses on Sunday even as the toll in Friday's quake climbed to 20,000. The number of injured is said to be greater than 50,000 and lakhs have been rendered homeless.
Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel told newsmen that the death toll could be anywhere between 15,000 and 20,000 and it was difficult to give exact figures of the extent of loss of lives and damage to property.
While 15,000 people may have died in Bhuj alone, in the neighbouring Anjar taluk all the 400 children, caught in the rubble of collapsed buildings in a narrow lane were presumed dead. While eight children were rescued, four bodies have been retrieved, Patel said.
Rescuers struggled to reach thousands of trapped survivors and preparations began for mass cremations. The tremors rattled the region for a few seconds at 6.32 am, a release from the India Meterological Department said. The tremors also jolted Ahmedabad city and its adjoining areas.
Earlier, on Saturday night, thousands of panic-stricken residents of the city left their homes and poured on the streets braving chill following reports that fresh tremors were on the cards in 48 hours. An official spokesman had described such reports as "baseless".
Meanwhile, Railways have started special trains to Ahmedabad from Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore on Sunday to take the relatives of quake-hit people and relief workers to Ahmedabad and if possible to Dhrangdhara, an Indian Railway official said.
Passengers visiting their relatives in Gujarat and those involved in relief work can travel in these trains free of cost, an official spokesman told PTI on Sunday.
The special trains will run along the following routes to Ahmedabad: Howrah-Kharakpur-Chakradarpur-Tatanagar-Nagpur-Busawal-Surat-Ahmedabad Delhi-Rewadi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Ajmer-Abu Road-Palanpur-Ahmedabad Chennai-Vijayawada-Busawal-Surat-Ahmedabad Bangalore-Dharmavaram-Wadi-Manmad-Jalgaon-Ahmedabad Mumbai-Surat-Ahmedabad.
The Railways have rushed labour from Mumbai by two labour specials for restoration of rail network in the quake-hit areas, the official said.
A special train carrying four bulldozers has already left Bhilai early Sunday morning and two trains carrying GI sheets have also been diverted to Ahmedabad, he added.