Big earthquake in Sikkim, tremors across India; 28 dead, over 100 injured
Seven people, including two Armymen, were killed in Sikkim and 33 others received injuries there. In Bihar, a seven-year-old girl was among two dead. Latehar was one of the worst hit in India; two people died there and wide cracks were visible on houses. Roads also cracked in several places and residents ran out on the streets. Four more died in West Bengal. Of the five people killed in Nepal, three casualties were reported from Kathmandu, where the British embassy collapsed and smashed a car.
Tremors were felt in Lucknow, Patna, Kolkata, New Delhi and the National Capital Region, which sent thousands of people running out of their homes.
Three aftershocks, of magnitude 5.7, 5.1 and 4.6 were also felt in Sikkim, says the India Meteorological Department.
Many buildings in Sikkim developed cracks, including the Sikkim Manipal University building. Key roads to the Hills have been badly damaged, leaving Sikkim virtually cut off from the rest of the country.
A total number of 4000 people are involved in the rescue operations including the personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). They have launched search and rescue operations in the Pegong area of north Sikkim which has been “badly affected.” The ITBP rescued 15 foreign tourists and 150 villagers in their operations. They were moved to battalion headquarters. Rescue operations are, however, being hampered by heavy rainfall and landslides.
Apart from five civilians, two Army personnel were killed in Sikkim. There was also extensive damage to Army structures in North Sikkim. The Army bus, which was missing after the earthquake, was found today. All the Armymen in the bus are safe.
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were rushed to Sikkim and five more teams were being sent from Kolkata, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth told reporters after a meeting of top officials in Delhi convened on the direction of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The PM has also spoken to Sikkim’s Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and offered help.
The NDRF personnel, including 20 doctors, were in Siliguri to help and rescue those trapped. Main Siliguri-Gangtok highway is blocked at 25 places; the Army is trying to open the highway.
10 engineer columns are moving from Siliguri to clear the four blockages in the Siliguri-Gangtok route. Large amount of civilians have been accommodated in Kalimpong in West Bengal and other places in Sikkim.
There is no electricity in Gangtok and Darjeeling. Telephone lines have also snapped in some parts of Sikkim; phone lines are congested in West Bengal.
Five Indian Air Force planes have also been pressed into action for relief operations. Small Army columns in Sikkim have also been mobilised post the earthquake.
The quake comes just days after an earthquake of 4.2 magnitude hit Haryana’s Sonepat district, sending tremors in New Delhi.