Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quake toll rises to 87,relief team reaches epicentre in Sikkim

The rescue workers have been racing against time as they battle landslides and rains in Sikkim and hilly regions of West Bengal to save the still trapped victims of Sunday's earthquake that has claimed 87 lives in the country so far.
Authorities feared that the toll could go up further as they struggled to reach people trapped under debris.
The death toll in Sikkim alone stood at 72, with the northern part of the state recording maximum casualties. The 6.8 magnitude quake has left behind badly damaged roads and buildings and disrupted communication lines.

A series of aftershocks rattled survivors and spread panic. Medical teams reached the epicentre, Mangan, using choppers on Tuesday.

Rescue operations remained the biggest challenge as rain and landslides were severely hampering the efforts. Bad weather was not allowing helicopters to land in the affected areas and the Indian Air Force (IAF) planes were unable to air-drop food packets.

The Board Road Organisation (BRO) engineers, meanwhile, managed to open National Highway 31A on Monday, while the highway from Darjeeling to Nathu La was expected to be cleared on Tuesday.
Over 5,000 army soldiers and 700 from Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operation with the help of nine helicopters.

The army and the ITBP were also operating relief camps to house the survivors.

The Centre and the state government have announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh respectively for the next of kin of those killed in the quake.

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