Landslides, weather hamper rescue work

Landslides, weather hamper rescue work

The number of dead in Sikkim alone climbed to 50 besides 12 in West Bengal and six in Bihar. The possibility of the number increasing cannot be ruled out as the forces involved in rescue work believe people may be trapped under debris, especially in the mountaneous region of north Sikkim, closer to the quake epicentre.

Briefing the media on the situation, Union Home Secretary R K Singh said: “The toll may increase as the rescue and relief teams reach the interiors and look for the dead and the trapped.”

According to the ministry, Road links between Sikkim and the rest of the country, snapped since Sunday due to landslides, were restored. But there are still stretches where mudslides are continuing, hitting connectivity. Road connectivity to one of the worst affected areas of Mangan in Sikkim was restored while roads to another badly hit area, Chungthan, remain shut. Both places are closest to the quake epicentre located on the Indo-Nepal border.

According to him the road from Gangtok to Mangan in Sikkim has been opened while work was still on to open the road from Mangan to Chungthan where the damage to the road is reported to be heavy. Two rescue teams of 30 personnel each from Jat Regiment were airdropped at Mangan and Chungthan on Monday for search and rescue. The team has started work.

Two choppers are being pressed into service with the officials of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the state government for aerial surveillance of affected areas and to ascertain the damage and casualties. Food packets have been airdropped in the Northern areas of North District.

The home ministry statement said five teams of the NDRF were placed at Gangtok on Monday.

More than 5,000 army and paramilitary troopers and police personnel are engaged in a massive rescue and relief operation, with more than half of them deployed in the worst-hit north Sikkim areas.

Authorities opened at least 100 relief camps to provide food and medicines to those whose homes are damaged.

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