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New Delhi, September 22, 2011
Rescue and relief operations continued round the clock in Sikkim as the death toll in the powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck the region last Sunday evening rose to 89 today.
Of these, as many as 71 deaths were reported from Sikkim alone and the authorities said the number could increase further as rescue and relief teams slowly made their way into inaccessible interior areas.
The sources said 54 of the deaths occurred in the worst-hit North District of Sikkim, 12 in East District, 4 in West District and 1 in South District.
Besides, 12 deaths were reported from West Bengal and 6 in Bihar due to the quake, which had jolted most of North, East and North-East India.
Seven people were reported killed in neighbouring Nepal and another seven in Tibet.
The rescue and relief operations are being spearheaded by the Army, paramilitary forces, state police and other agencies, including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
While the Army has deployed more than 5500 personnel, ten teams of the NDRF, consisting of 403 personnel, had been deployed along with necessary equipment for search and rescue operations.
The sources said three teams of the NDRF which were located at Gangtok, have moved to Mangan and two teams already located at Mangan have been deployed for search and rescue operations in villages Ramam, Lingzya and Dzongu.
Two teams of NDRF comprising 14 personnel and 16 personnel each have been deployed at Chungthan and Lachung, respectively.
The doctors of the NDRF team deployed at Mangan with medical detachment have set up a medial relief camp at Manul Mangan.
The sources said as many as 827 personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) were engaged in rescue operations and had also set up relief camps where rescued villagers have been given shelter.
The State Government has opened relief camps in each district. As many as 2700 and 550 people have been provided shelter in Army camps and ITBP camp, respectively.
A total of 94 Army columns, each consisting of 15 to 40 personnel each, have been deployed for rescue operation. Rescue columns comprising 281 personnel deployed at Mangan have set up an Integrated Command Centre.
The sources said 94 villages had been physically covered by the team of Army jawans in their search and rescue operations.
Besides, 21 engineer columns had been deployed for restoration of communication on national highways in conjunction with the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). A medical team comprising 19 doctors was deployed by the Ministry of Health.
A team of 10 doctors has reached Chungthan on September 20 and the other nine have been deployed at STNM Hospital, Gangtok.
The sources said 940 civilians had been treated at military hospitals, including 28 civilians evacuated by Army helicopters.
About 8000 food packets have been air-dropped in the northern part of North District.
As many as 15 helicopters of the Army and Air Force have been pressed into relief work. For airdropping and reconnaissance, 100 sorties have been carried out so far.
About 2800 people have been provided shelter in 8 relief camps established at Darjeeling , Gangtok , Chungthan and Pagong. In Chungthan, about 2000 people have taken shelter at a Gurudwara. Temporary shelters have also been set up at Lingzya, Sakyong, Pentong, Ramam, Shipgyel and Jongu/Saffo in North District.
The sources said the National Highway (NH) 31-A from Siliguri to Gangtok and NH 55 from Darjeeling to Siliguri, and roads from Gangtok – Rangrang and Mangan, Mangan – Chugthan (upto 12 kms), Gangtok – Nathu La (56 km – 15 km open), Damdim – Alagarh – Rishi – Pedong, and Kupup – Nathu La had been restored for traffic.
They said the Chungthang – Lachen (22 kms), Pedong – Kupup (49 kms) and Rangpo – Rorathang.(10 kms.) roads were still blocked.
They also said power supply was normal in most areas, except in the northern part of North District. As far as communications were concerned, landline and microwave links were oeprational as were most fo the mobile towers.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram visited Sikkim today to review the arrangements of rescue and relief post-earthquake. On behalf of the Prime Minister, the Home Minister announced a grant of Rs.50 crore for the purpose.