New Delhi: Relief efforts in Sikkim are being severely hampered due to bad weather, loss of mobile connectivity and landslides as personnel are struggling to reach affected areas. Over 5000 troops have been deployed, but roads from Silugiri to Gangtok are all blocked, as is the main highway which is blocked in over 25 places due to mudslides. 25 engineering units have been deployed to clear the routes and officials say that they should be operational by this evening. Flying into the state is impossible at the moment because of fog and low visibility. In the meantime personnel from the National Disaster Force who are carrying specialized rescue equipment are stuck at Siliguri. The Sikkim government says that North Sikkim is severely affected, but the extent of damage is still unknown.
News reports said that the death toll rose to 40 with 19 people being killed in Sikkim, five in West Bengal, two in Bihar, and seven each in Nepal and Tibet. Over a hundred people have been injured. PTI reported that the casualties have occurred mostly in the North District and in towns and villages like Rangpo, Dikchu, Singtam and
Chungthang located along the course of Teesta river.
Power was restored this morning in Gangtok, where residents had spent the night outside their houses fearing aftershocks. At least 20 aftershocks throughout the night had created panic in the city.
Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported that at least seven persons have been killed and 22 others injured in Tibet in the quake which has caused landslides and has
disrupted traffic, power and water supplies as well as telecommunication in Yadong County, an area 40 km away from Sikkim. Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel rescued 200 civilians including 22 tourists, they’ve taken refuge at the Pegong camp. An IAF team carrying supplies is on its way. Arrangements have been made for over 2000 refugees in the area.
The Bagdogra airbase has been made the centre of all operations. The centre has rushed in relief teams, and neighboring states of Bihar and West Bengal are also sending in personnel.
The force of the quake tore down part of the British embassy wall in Nepal, but External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said the Indian embassy building and staff were safe. Power supply has been affected in Sikkim, North Bengal and North Bihar.
The U.S. Geological Survey said on its website that the quake was centered 64km north west of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. It was 10km deep.
The quake was felt all the way to Bangladesh, shaking buildings in the capital and neighbouring areas.
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