We have now heard that the schools we support in Sikkim have suffered minor damage, but no-one was harmed. However, I am told that the press reports of the numbers killed greatly under-estimate the true numbers which could amount to thousands. Villages in the north have still not been reached by rescue parties.
The following report comes from the Zeenews Bureau:-
Sikkim Mangan/Gangtok: Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling on Wednesday said that the relief and rescue operation in the earthquake-affected parts of Sikkim will be completed in the next two to three days.
Addressing a press conference in the capital Gangtok, Chamling said, “The massive earthquake that his state and other regions in northeastern India and Nepal had caused great loss of life and property.”
“The estimated losses suffered due to the quake are at Rs one lakh crore,” Chamling said, adding, “A full estimate of the losses incurred due to the tremor will be made soon and a report in this regard will be sent to Centre seeking financial assistance.”
The Sikkim Chief Minister, while assuring that the relief and rescue operations are in full swing, confirmed the death of at least 68 people in his state alone.
He told reporters that at least 200 houses including government buildings have been severely damaged. At least nine villages in north Sikkim are still unreachable due to landslides and unpleasant weather conditions, he added.
He further told that at least 300 hundred people have been rescued by the rescue teams and treated at Army and government hospitals.
“Our rescue teams have saved at least 55 tourists and efforts are on to provide all sort of help to them,” he said.
The Sikkim leader concluded by thanking the Central government, various agencies and local administration involved in the relief and rescue operations there.
Earlier, thirty-five tourists, including two from Norway, were airlifted by the Army from Lachung village, one of the worst-hit quake areas in Sikkim.
Also airlifted were 16 people injured in the quake, Army sources said. The tourists, some of whom were wounded, were airlifted from Ringzim helipad here.
Paljor Lachungpa, who is coordinating the evacuation, said Lachen was still cut off and more tourists could be airlifted from Chungthang later in the day. The tourists were in a state of shock.
Army, NDRF and disaster management personnel walked to Tung, between quake epi-centre Mangan and worst-hit Chungthang and rescued the people in the bus last night, the sources said.
Rescue teams are yet to reach Chungthang which is in the mountains.
Villagers of Dikchu Valley were very worried in the absence of any communication from their menfolk who work in the Teesta project at Chungthang, which is about 12 km away, since the calamity struck.
A large number of houses had either collapsed or were badly damaged by Sunday’s temblor and at least 10 major cracks were seen on the Singtam-Dikchu road.
Most of the people in Dikchu are staying in open areas for fear of aftershocks.