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Rescue, relief efforts continue as quake toll rises to 68

A view of an area affected by Sunday's earthquake in Sikkim from an Indian Air Force helicopter on September 20, 2011
A view of an area affected by Sunday's earthquake in Sikkim from an Indian Air Force helicopter on September 20, 2011

Rescue and relief teams continued their operations round the clock in Sikkim and parts of Bengal and Bihar as the death toll in the powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck the region on Sunday evening and shook most of North, East and North-East India rose to 68 today.

Official sources said at least 50 people had died in Sikkim, where the quake - the strongest to hit the region in decades - was epicentred and the number was expected to rise further as rescue and relief teams pushed further into the interiors.

The worst-hit North District accounted for 33 of the deaths (Mangan/Lachan – 10, Toong – 4, Chungthan – 10, Salimpokyel – 9) while 12 deaths were reported from East Sikkim (Rangpo – 1, Singtam – 2, Chubakola – 5, 15th Mile – 2, Sang – 1, Makha – 1), 4 from West District (Mangalbaria -2, Geyzing -1, Kalukh-1); and 1 from South District (Jorethang -1).

Besides, 12 deaths were reported from West Bengal (Darjeelling – 8, Jalpaigudi – 1, North West Dinajpur – 3) and 6 from Bihar (Nawada – 1, Nalanda – 1, Darbhanga -1, Shivhar -1 and Samastipur -2), the sources said.

The sources said the highway from Gangtok to Mangan, near the epicentre of the quake and about 65 km from the Sikkim capital, was open while the road from Mangan to Chungthan was yet to be opened because the damage to it was reported to be heavy.

Two rescue teams of 30 personnel each from the Jat Regiment were airdropped at Mangan and Chungthan yesterday for search and rescue efforts. The teams have started their work.

A team of ten doctors from Delhi has also reached Chungthan, the sources said.

Members of Border Roads Organisation clearing a road after a landslide at Mirik, 70 km from Siliguri on the way to Sikkim on September 19, 2011, a day afer an earthquake rocked the region. UNI PHOTO
Members of Border Roads Organisation clearing a road after a landslide at Mirik, 70 km from Siliguri on the way to Sikkim on September 19, 2011, a day afer an earthquake rocked the region. UNI PHOTO

Of the five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) placed at Gangtok yesterday, one left for Mangan this morning. Arrangements were being made to airlift another team to Chungthan.

The sources said choppers were being pressed into service with the officials of the NDRF and the state government for aerial surveillance of the affected areas and to ascertain the damage and casualties.

Food packets were airdropped in the northern areas of North District this morning. The state government has opened relief camps in each district and deputed senior secretaries to the four districts.

The Centre has deputed a joint secretary from the Ministry of Home Affairs to Sikkim to coordinate the relief operations.

The rescue and relief efforts are being spearheaded by the Armed Forces, para-military organisations and the state police as well as by personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other agencies.

NNN

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