Monday, September 19, 2011

Sikkim earthquake

Sikkim earthquake toll rises to 66
GANGTOK: Landslides and inclement weather today hampered rescue operations in quake-hit Sikkim as the death toll in the 6.8 magnitude tremblor mounted to 66, including 39 in the Himalayan state.

The earthquake, which struck last evening, left a trail of devastation damaging roads, buildings and other structures, uprooting mobile phone towers and snapping communication and power lines. After shocks made people panic in several areas forcing them to spend the night outdoors.

West and South districts in Sikkim remained inaccessible to the Army due to landslides and inclement weather and rescuers were facing an uphill task to reach these areas, Major General S L Narasimhan, GOC 17 Mountain Division told reporters here.

Sikkim accounted for 39 deaths alone, with most casualties taking place in the North District and in towns and villages like Rangpo, Dikchu, Singtam and Chungthang located along the course of Teesta river, officials in the district control room said.

Eight persons travelling in a bus of Teesta Urja Limited in North District are presumed dead as their vehicle got stuck under debris caused by a landslide, Narasimhan said. This, however, has not been incorporated in the official figure of those killed.

The overnight toll climbed to 66 which included six deaths in West Bengal and seven each in Bihar, Nepal and Tibet, official reports said. Over a hundred people have been injured.

Narasimhan said army has launched 'Operation Madad' in Gangtok and other areas by deploying over 2,500 troops."We are also sending teams to Darjeeling and Kalimpong (in West Bengal)," he said.

A group of 14 tourists were rescued by the army from north Sikkim last night, Narasimhan said.

In Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced Rs two lakh as ex-gratia to next of kin of those killed in the earthquake and Rs one lakh each for those seriously injured.

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