12 foreigners rescued, toll goes up to 117

12 foreigners rescued, toll goes up to 117

With one more body recovered from the North district, the toll in Sikkim has gone up to 74 while West Bengal has reported 15 deaths, nine in Bihar, 11 in Nepal, seven in Tibet and one in Bhutan.

Officials said 21 people including 12 foreigners stranded in the district were airlifted to Gangtok.

Four key roads -- Chungthang-Lachen, Chungthan -Lachung, Pedong-Kupup and Rangpo-Rorathang -- are still blocked due to landslide and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and Army Engineers are working on their restoration.

Four pregnant women were shifted by ITBP to Mangan Chungthang hospitals. Rescue teams also evacuated 18 more Indian tourists from Rangma Range and nine civilian workers of Teesta project from Pegong.

Power supply in Sikkim has been normal except in the some parts of North district.
Most of the employees and labourers of the Teesta Hydro Electro Project have been counted for and fears of recovery of more bodies in and around the construction site have been dispelled by the rescuers, a senior Home ministry official said.

Army personnel involved in the rescue operation at Saffu could not reach the Teesta project site by road owing to landslides and reached the area through the project tunnels.

Most of the people, including tourists, have been evacuated from Lachen, but there were fresh landslides in the area which, coupled with intermittent rains, made the going difficult for the Army, officials said.

Ten teams of NDRF comprising 403 personnel along with necessary equipment have been deployed for search and rescue operations.

Three teams of NDRF which were located at Gangtok have moved to Mangan and two teams 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.

Altogether 827 ITBP personnel are engaged in rescue operations and have also set up relief camps where villagers have been given shelter.

The state government has opened relief camps in each district. 2700 and 550 people have been provided shelter in army camps and ITBP camp (Pengong) respectively.

A total of 5,500 army personnel located in Sikkim have been pressed into relief and rescue operations. Out of this, 94 army columns (strength of columns varies from 15-40 personnel each) have been deployed for rescue operation. Rescue columns comprising 281 personnel deployed at Mangan have set up Integrated Command Centre.

94 villages have been physically covered by the team of army jawans in their search and rescue operations.

The 12 foreigners, including two Norwegian tourists, were airlifted from quake-hit Chungthang to Safo in North Sikkim and later to the state capital today.

"Safo is a relatively safer place in the higher reaches where many of the rescued persons have been sheltered," they said.

Ten technicians and engineers, mainly from South Africa and Brazil were working at the Teesta project.

"We have yet no idea of the condition in villages like Sakyong-Pentong, Bey which were in forested areas beyond Dzongu," an official said.

The villages in Sikkim are scattered and there is only one major highway connecting Mangan to Dzongu.

Lingza and Bey villages at Upper Dzongu in the North District were reconnected to the outside world for a brief period yesterday after remaining cut off for five days, but fresh landslides blocked the road linking the villages to Mangan.

However, landslides were cleared upto Lingza Falls enabling Army and police personnel to resume their mission to reach food supplies to the marooned people.

From the Lingza Falls they headed onwards the villages on foot.

Local people said some villages like 12 Mile had been completely wiped out.

Teesta company today said its under-construction,1,200-MW hydroelectric project in North District was not amuch affected by the 6.8 magnitude quake.

"No section of the tunnels of project works, at Saffu or at any other location on the site, is flooded or has collapsed," the company said in a statement.

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