Thursday, September 22, 2011

6.9 Magnitude Earthquake SIKKIM, INDIA death toll hits 106 as Rescuers reach remote village

Rescuers on Thursday finally reached some of the villages in India's remote northeast that were cut off by a powerful earthquake in the Himalayan region last weekend, as the death toll in the disaster climbed past 100.

Rescue efforts following Sunday's magnitude-6.9 quake, which also struck parts of Tibet and Nepal, were slow-going because heavy rains kept helicopters grounded and mudslides triggered by the disaster blocked roads leading into remote, mountainous terrain.

As the weather improved Thursday, with no rain, helicopters were able to ferry relief workers to some inaccessible areas for the first time, said R. Sahu, an Indian air force spokesman. Other workers moved forward on the ground, using heavy machinery and dynamite to clear roads.

Sahu said nine villages with a combined population of nearly 1,000 were still cut off, but that aircraft had been able to drop rice and other supplies to stranded residents.

India's Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram on Thursday visited some of the hardest-hit areas and said the army assured him that by Friday at the latest they would be able to access the nine villages by road.

Two injured people from Chungthang, one of the worst-hit villages, were taken by helicopter to a hospital, Sahu said.

Nearly 200 homes were damaged in Chungthang, which has a population of nearly 2,000 people. Fearing aftersLinkhocks, most residents, especially women and children, have been spending the nights in a Sikh shrine that also provides them with food.

Police said seven bodies were found in the Mangan area close to the epicenter of the quake. Read More