New Delhi/Gangtok: The death toll of the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Sikkim on Sunday evening has reached 62. Sikkim is the worst hit with 38 casualties, 10 deaths have been confirmed in Bihar and West Bengal and 14 in Nepal and Tibet.
Out of the 38 deaths in Sikkim, most of the casualties have been reported from the northern districts. The toll could rise further as west Sikkim is still cut off.
Stranded relief and rescue teams on Monday started moving towards quake-hit areas in Sikkim after National Highway 31A, linking Sikkim to Bagdogra has been partially opened for traffic.
At 6.8 on the Richter scale, Sunday evening's quake was the worst earthquake in 20 years for the northeast. As many as 20 after-shocks have been experienced in Sikkim since Sunday.
The Army said one-way traffic is being allowed on the road and rescue and relief teams including those belonging to the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), which were stranded after landslides caused by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake blocked the highway, have started to move towards the quake hit areas of Sikkim.
The rescue teams were holed up in Bagdogra due to landslides on the highway. Even choppers could not take off earlier from either Bagdogra or Siliguri due to bad weather.
Nine helicopters have also been mobilised for rescue operations.
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on Monday visited quake-hit areas in and around Gangtok to assess damages.
While, power has been restored to Gangtok, north Sikkim is still without power.
About 1000 camps have been opened for civilians in different parts of Sikkim.
All the roads linking smaller towns and villages of North Sikkim got blocked due to landslides at more than 25 locations, making it very difficult for the rescue operations to reach. Army teams are trying to clear the roads.
The Army has deployed 105 columns (5,000 troops) in relief and rescue operation and provided shelter to over 1,500 quake-hit people. Several cookhouses are also being managed by Army teams to provide food to the people. One thousand relief camps for civilians in different parts of Sikkim have also been opened.
One Junior Engineer of the BRO has been reportedly killed during the rescue operation. Two C-130J Super Hercules, one IL-76 and one AVRO aircraft have been sent from the Hindon and Palam Air Force bases with NDRF personnel, sniffer dogs, search and rescue teams and medical personnel. The C-130J Super Hercules can land on unprepared runways even in the dark and will help in relief and rescue operations in the North Sikkim region.
Medical teams from Delhi, Bihar and West Bengal have also been sent to the quake-hit regions on Sikkim.
Bihar has also sent a team of 160 NDRF personnel while Border Security Force rescue team and dog squad have also been sent. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel have rescued 400 villagers including 22 tourists so far. They have been kept at the Pegong camp.
Two Army soldiers and one Junior Engineer of the BRO have been killed. Army vehicles including a bus that went missing have been found and all personnel are safe.
Source: CNN IBN Live
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