68 dead in 6.8 intensity Sikkim earthquake



New Delhi: At least 68 people have died in the earthquake that struck large parts of north and east India, Home Secretary RK Singh said Tuesday and warned that the toll is expected to go up as rescue operations continue.

"According to the Sikkim government, the toll in the state is 50. Number of deaths in West Bengal is 12 while six people have died in Bihar," he told reporters here, two days after the earthquake.

He said two rescue teams from the army had "air dropped" in Sikkim and a team of 10 doctors from Delhi had reached the spot. "The toll may increase further as rescue teams reach the interiors," the home secretary said.

About 300 people were injured in the 6.8 magnitude quake Sunday. 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.

More than 5,000 army police and paramilitary troopers 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. Sunday's quake rattled large parts of India, from New Delhi to Mizoram. It also shook Nepal, Tibet and Bangladesh.

IANS