Gangtok: Large scale rescue and relief operations in earthquake-affected Sikkim are being hampered by rough weather and major landslides, even as Army has been pressed into service to restore normalcy there.
Giving more information about the relief works being carried out in Sikkim, state’s Governor BP Singh said, “Inclement weather is hampering rescue operations. Continuous rains and fog has made the task of rescuers difficult.”
Singh, while stressing that north Sikkim has been the worst hit by the quake, said that over 100 residential and government buildings have been damaged due to the quake.
The Sikkim Governor said, “At least 372 people including 22 tourists have been rescues so far and most of the injured are being treated at Army’s field hospitals.”
Singh said, “The casualties have occurred mostly in the North District and in towns and villages like Rangpo, Dikchu, Singtam and Chungthang located along the course of Teesta river.”
Singh stated that Army has taken over the relief and rescue operations with the help of local administration.
Sikkim Governor informed that rescue teams have been deployed in various affected areas this morning. “Many buildings in and around Gangtok have collapsed and around 85 per cent structures and houses have developed cracks due to the 6.8 magnitude quake,” he said.
“Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were unable to reach quake-hit Sikkim as landslides damaged the national highway, snapping the hill state`s only road link with the outside world,” he told reporters on phone.
“The Centre has mobilised 72 columns of Army apart from Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Border Road Organisation (BRO) personnel. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has also deployed five aircraft, including two of its newly acquired C 130J Super Hercules, “Singh added.
The IAF planes would be used to transport relief supplies to the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), Singh said.
Most areas in north Sikkim have been cut-off from the rest of the country as roads were blocked and all communication lines got snapped. All BSNL telephone landlines are dead here since last evening.
Singh further informed that in Gangtok, power was restored this morning after residents spent the night outside their houses in fear of aftershocks. At least 20 aftershocks throughout the night
created panic in the city.
The Sadar police station in Gangtok was also badly damaged due to the impact of the tremor.
The epicentre of the quake - the biggest in two decades - was located at Mangan and Sakyong areas, over 50 km from Gangtok on the Sikkim-Nepal border.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary RK Singh also told reporters that the Centre was fully coordinating with the Sikkim government and providing all necessary assistance required to minimize the suffering of people there.
“We are constantly in touch with Sikkim government. There is no scarcity of essential supplies in Sikkim. Army, IAF, ITBP and the local administration is helping in the rescue operation there.”