Death toll in Sikkim quake rises to 58 in India

Updated: 2011-09-20 13:41


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NEW DELHI - The death toll of earthquake which hit the northeast Indian state of Sikkim has risen to 58 in India, as rescuers are fighting to get into the inner areas against damaged roads and bridges, mudslides and bad weather in the hilly state, reported local media Tuesday.

In Sikkim, the toll had reached 41, most of whom died in the north districts of Rangpo, Dikchu, Singtam and Chungthang. Ten persons have died in neighboring West Bengal and seven in the eastern state of Bihar, according to The Times of India electronic edition.

The rescue work met tremendous difficulties as the 100-km Gangtok-Chungthang road was severely damaged, while National Highway-31A, the only the highway to Gangtok from outside Sikkim, was cleared by Monday afternoon.

Nearly 6,000 Army and paramilitary forces personnel are working in the relief operations in Sikkim but till Monday evening only a handful could reach Mangan, the quake's epicenter, and surrounding areas of north and west Sikkim, where the maximum damage has been reported, according to the reports.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team is also heading towards Mangan on Tuesday morning, hoping to reach the worst-hit areas by late evening, as the roads are still being cleared by the soldiers.

Power, water and telecommunication lines in many areas continue to be affected, although power was restored in Gangtok and some other areas Monday.

The Indian Air Force had dispatched two C-130J Hercules aircraft with 203 NDRF personnel, sniffer dogs, rescue teams, medical personnel and nine tonnes of relief materials including tents, medicines and food stocks for the quake-hit areas.

Army helicopters are also sending medical teams and relief equipment to Gangtok.