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Quake leaves 71 people dead

By The Assam Tribune

GANGTOK, Sept 19 � Sunday evening�s 6.8-magnitude earthquake, with its epicentre near the border with Nepal, left 71 people dead, including 41 in the Himalayan State of Sikkim, besides leaving a trail of devastation, damaging roads, buildings and other structures, uprooting mobile phone towers and snapping communication and power lines, reports PTI.

The death toll may go up, with over a hundred people in the injured list. Union Home Secretary RK Singh said nothing can be ruled out, as people may still be trapped under the debris of collapsed houses since rescue teams were still trying hard to reach all villages.

Food packets were airdropped in the inaccessible quake-hit areas. Two medical teams with doctors and paramedics reached worst-affected Mangan and Sangthan with the help of helicopters and Border Roads Organisation has been able to reopen the Himalayan State�s lifeline � the National Highway 31-A, Singh said.

West and South districts in Sikkim remained mostly inaccessible to the Army in the earlier part of the day due to landslides and inclement weather and rescuers were facing an uphill task to reach these areas, Major General SL Narasimhan, GOC 17 Mountain Division, said.

Sikkim accounted for 41 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.

The overnight toll climbed to 68 which included nine deaths in West Bengal and seven each in Bihar, Nepal and Tibet, official reports said.

Panic-stricken residents of the affected areas spent a sleepless night apprehending more tremors braving cold, chilly winds and pouring rain.

The Army has opened relief camps for 2,000 people and ITBP opened camps for 400 others. The Sikkim Power Corporation has been able to restore power connection partially while landline telephone connection with Sikkim is functioning normally.

Nine helicopters were engaged in carrying out rescue and relief operations � mostly in worst-hit North district � despite bad weather.

About 400 people from quake-hit areas in North Sikkim have been rescued and taken to safe locations, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) said.

Besides 26 tourists, including international visitors, were also taken to safe places and the road connectivity in the worst-hit Pegong area is likely to be restored soon.

�People have been rendered homeless. About 700 personnel are roped in for the rescue mission,� ITBP Director General Ranjit Sinha said.

He said villages near Pegong were drastically affected in the 6.8-magnitude quake that jolted most of the northern States.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling visited the quake-hit areas in and around the capital town to assess damages.

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.

In Gangtok, the Chief Minister announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for those grievously injured and Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries.

Our Correspondent adds from Gangtok: The death toll in Sunday�s earthquake for the North and East districts of Sikkim is likely to go up, with over 100 people in the injured list. The dead include 10 labourers engaged in the Teesta hydropower project stage-III.

The tremor has completely cut off North Sikkim from the rest of the world, with all modes of communication, including cellphone networks and the internet, left paralysed. The place that has been most devastated is Mangan, about 52 km from Gangtok.

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Quake leaves 71 people dead

GANGTOK, Sept 19 � Sunday evening�s 6.8-magnitude earthquake, with its epicentre near the border with Nepal, left 71 people dead, including 41 in the Himalayan State of Sikkim, besides leaving a trail of devastation, damaging roads, buildings and other structures, uprooting mobile phone towers and snapping communication and power lines, reports PTI.

The death toll may go up, with over a hundred people in the injured list. Union Home Secretary RK Singh said nothing can be ruled out, as people may still be trapped under the debris of collapsed houses since rescue teams were still trying hard to reach all villages.

Food packets were airdropped in the inaccessible quake-hit areas. Two medical teams with doctors and paramedics reached worst-affected Mangan and Sangthan with the help of helicopters and Border Roads Organisation has been able to reopen the Himalayan State�s lifeline � the National Highway 31-A, Singh said.

West and South districts in Sikkim remained mostly inaccessible to the Army in the earlier part of the day due to landslides and inclement weather and rescuers were facing an uphill task to reach these areas, Major General SL Narasimhan, GOC 17 Mountain Division, said.

Sikkim accounted for 41 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.

The overnight toll climbed to 68 which included nine deaths in West Bengal and seven each in Bihar, Nepal and Tibet, official reports said.

Panic-stricken residents of the affected areas spent a sleepless night apprehending more tremors braving cold, chilly winds and pouring rain.

The Army has opened relief camps for 2,000 people and ITBP opened camps for 400 others. The Sikkim Power Corporation has been able to restore power connection partially while landline telephone connection with Sikkim is functioning normally.

Nine helicopters were engaged in carrying out rescue and relief operations � mostly in worst-hit North district � despite bad weather.

About 400 people from quake-hit areas in North Sikkim have been rescued and taken to safe locations, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) said.

Besides 26 tourists, including international visitors, were also taken to safe places and the road connectivity in the worst-hit Pegong area is likely to be restored soon.

�People have been rendered homeless. About 700 personnel are roped in for the rescue mission,� ITBP Director General Ranjit Sinha said.

He said villages near Pegong were drastically affected in the 6.8-magnitude quake that jolted most of the northern States.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling visited the quake-hit areas in and around the capital town to assess damages.

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.

In Gangtok, the Chief Minister announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for those grievously injured and Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries.

Our Correspondent adds from Gangtok: The death toll in Sunday�s earthquake for the North and East districts of Sikkim is likely to go up, with over 100 people in the injured list. The dead include 10 labourers engaged in the Teesta hydropower project stage-III.

The tremor has completely cut off North Sikkim from the rest of the world, with all modes of communication, including cellphone networks and the internet, left paralysed. The place that has been most devastated is Mangan, about 52 km from Gangtok.