Quake toll in India mounts to 66, top officials airdash to Nepal
The death toll in India from Saturday's massive earthquake in Nepal has mounted to 66, officials said on Monday as the Centre rushed an inter-ministerial team of top officials to help coordinate relief operations in Nepal.
Bihar, the worst hit among the Indian states, accounted for 51 deaths, Uttar Pradesh 12, West Bengal two, and Rajasthan one.
The quake and powerful aftershocks that followed have left another 288 injured across the country.
India, which has mounted massive relief operations in Nepal as part of 'Operation Maitri', airdashed a team of senior officials from ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs and NDMA to Nepal to coordinate rescue and relief operations in the quake-ravaged country.
Headed by the Additional Secretary to the Home Ministry B K Prasad, the team will also monitor the evacuation of stranded Indians in Nepal.
Sources said that the team will coordinate with the Nepalese government in the salvage operation and assess the damage. It will send a report to New Delhi so that all help could be provided to the Himalayan nation on priority.
The decision to send the high-level team was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. Nearly 1000 trained personnel from India are already in Nepal where over two dozen aircraft and helicopters have already been deployed as part of the rescue and relief efforts, arguably the biggest undertaken in a foreign land struck by a natural disaster.
India has so far deployed 13 military aircraft, three civilian aircraft of Air India and Jet Airways, six Mi-17 helicopters, two Advanced Light Helicopters while two more Mi-17 choppers are kept in standby.
Ten tonnes of blankets, 50 tonnes of water, 22 tonnes of food items and two tonnes of medicines have been flown to Kathmandu. Three army field hospitals and engineering task force and medical units of civilian doctors have been sent to Nepal.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lauded the role of NDRF and other Indian agencies besides the states in mitigating the sufferings of the people in Nepal.
"To all those saying #ThankYouPM- appreciate the sentiment, real thanks should be to our great culture, which teaches us 'Seva Parmo Dharma'," Modi tweeted.
"If we want to thank anyone, it should be the 125 crore people of India who have made Nepal's pain their own & extended all help," he said.