Villagers in the mountainous regions of India’s Sikkim state woke Sunday night to an earthquake, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale. Tremors from the quake reached across northern India, Nepal, Bhutan and even parts of Bangladesh and Tibet.
The initial quake lasted almost two minutes, an above-average amount of time for a single tremor to last. This was followed by numerous less powerful aftershocks. Because of the remoteness of the regions, as well as the disruption to the phone services, news of the earthquake and damages were slow to filter out.
On Monday, Indian police reported at least 25 people died in the Sikkim capital of Gangtok as well as 11 in the state of West Bengal. Nepal reported at least seven people killed and in China the official Xinhua news agency confirmed seven more deaths in Tibet. Preliminary reports point to no less than 50 deaths and 1,000 houses completely destroyed with 100,000 facing some sort of damage.
The quake itself has also slowed recovery efforts. Numerous highways have been blocked due to landslides and the Indian government has no other option than to fly supplies as quickly as possible into the affected areas. Thousands of citizens are in need of help.
The quake-affected regions have launched over 5,000 troops to provide relief to the almost 2,000 displaced Indian earthquake victims. As recovery efforts get under way a clearer picture will arise of the actual damage as well as death toll. For now governments are compensating families who lost members with $4,000 and $2,000 for those who were seriously injured while they try to mobilize relief as fast as possible.
By Sami Pathan