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Monday, September 19, 2011

Earthquake toll rises to 72...Hills kickback from quake onslaught...Army and Airforce Mount Rescue and Relief Operations in Quake Hit Sikkim on a Warfooting ...Rs 2 lakh for the dead and 1 for injured...CM visits affected areas...AAGSU in support of AASU and KMSS, condemns agriculture minister’s statement

Earthquake toll rises to 72
SNS & PTI, GANGTOK/KOLKATA, 19 SEPT: Battling landslides and torrential rain in quake-hit Sikkim, rescue teams got into full swing today as the death toll in the 6.8-magnitude temblor mounted to 72, including 41 in the Himalayan state.
Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee is staying overnight at Siliguri but it is not yet confirmed whether she will go to Sikkim tomorrow or return to Kolkata. Her trip to Sikkim will depend on road and weather conditions. The earthquake, with its epicentre near the border with Nepal, left a trail of devastation damaging roads, buildings and other structures, uprooting mobile phone towers and snapping communication and power lines.
The death toll may go up. Union home secretary Mr RK Singh said nothing can be ruled out as people may still be trapped under the debris of collapsed houses since rescue teams were still trying hard to reach all villages.
Food packets were airdropped in the inaccessible quake-affected areas.
Two medical teams with doctors and paramedics reached the worst-affected Mangan and Sangthan with the help of helicopters. The Border Roads Organisation has been able to reopen the Himalayan state’s life line ~ the National Highway 31-A, Mr Singh said.
West and South districts in Sikkim remained mostly inaccessible to the Army in the earlier part of the day due to landslides and inclement weather and rescuers were facing an uphill task to reach these areas, Major-General SL Narasimhan, GOC 17 Mountain Division, said. Sikkim accounted for 41 deaths alone, with most casualties taking place in North district and in towns and villages like Rangpo, Dikchu, Singtam and Chungthang located along the course of the Teesta river, officials in the district control room said. Mr Singh said 10 bodies of employees of the Teesta Hydro Electric Project were recovered from the debris in Singtam. The toll included nine deaths in West Bengal and eight in Bihar, seven each in Nepal and Tibet, official reports said. Over a hundred people have been injured. Nearly 22 people travelling in a bus went missing since last evening in north Sikkim. A spokesman of the 17 Mountain Division said the Army was still not able to find the missing bus which could be anywhere between a radius of 10 and 15 km along Mangan and Chungthang in north Sikkim. An official update in Delhi tonight said NH-55 from Bagdogra to Darjeeling has been restored and the highway from Darjeeling to Nathu La is expected to be cleared by 6 p.m. tomorrow. “Ten doctors have been airlifted to Chungthang and medicines are being airlifted to Bagdogra from where they will be sent to Chungthang. Nearly 20 medical detachments have been deployed by the Army,” the official update said. The optical fibre link to Gangtok which had been disrupted is now restored. The Army has opened relief camps for 2,000 people and ITBP opened camps for 400 others. “Nearly 5,500 Army personnel were engaged apart from 700 ITBP personnel. The BRO has done a commendable job by reopening the highway linking Gangtok with Siliguri this afternoon,” Mr Singh said.
Sikkim chief minister Mr Pawan Chamling visited the quake-hit areas. The CM announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for those grievously injured and Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries. In Delhi, Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh announced Rs 2 lakh as ex gratia to the next of kin of those killed in the earthquake and Rs one lakh each for those seriously injured.
Many tourists from West Bengal were stranded in Gangtok, Namchi and Kumgon in Sikkim. Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported that seven people have been killed and 22 others injured in Tibet. Three people were killed at Lainchaur in Kathmandu, two in Sunsari district, and one each in Dhankuta and Sankhuwasabha districts in eastern Nepal, according to home ministry sources in the Nepalese capital.
Meanwhile, panic broke out at Kazipara near Shibpur in Howrah this morning when students of a Madrassa found a crack on the wall of a classroom. They rushed out of the school building and the teachers informed police of the situation. The crack was due to yesterday’s tremors, it was learnt. Mrs Mamata Jaiswal, mayor of the Howrah Municipal Corporation, visited the spot.
Hills kickback from quake onslaught
SNS, KURSEONG/DARJEELING, 19 SEPT: Five persons were killed and several injured in the Hills following yesterday’s devastating earthquake, the tremors of which, were felt in different parts of the country. The impact of the quake in the Hills was felt mainly in Kalimpong and Kurseong sub-divisions.
In Kalimpong, four persons have been killed. They have been identified as Puspa Agarwal (34) of Thakurbari, Kalimpong town, Mangli Subba (66), Shiva Kumar Pradhan (57) of block I and II, respectively, and Bhim Tamang (45), of Gorubathan Block, Jaldhaka. Among them, Subba and Pradhan died after they sufferred a cardiac arrest following the quake, while Agarwal and Tamang were killed after being hit by debris.
One Arjun Biswakarma (34), a resident of Longview and staff of Pankhabari HS School, was killed at Dudhia in the Kurseong sub-division area when boulders and debris fell on him. Several people have been released from hospitals after first-aid. Five injured persons were admitted at Kurseong sub-divisional hospital and eight injured persons have been admitted to Kalimpong hospital.
It was learnt that five houses collapsed in Kalimpong and two others collapsed at Giddhapar in Kurseong at around 4:30 a.m. following fresh landslides.
In Kalimpong, several minor and major cracks were noticed, but the most visible cracks were seen at the Leprosy Hospital, the maternity and child ward of Kalimpong Sub-Divisional Hospital.
In Kurseong, too, various houses, institutions and hospitals have developed cracks and in Tindharia the old railway hospital has also been affected by the quake.
People in Darjeeling town are still in the grip of shock as huge cracks have developed in many hospitals and schools, residential building as well as roads in the Hills. Schools, colleges and tea gardens remained closed across Darjeeling.
“The Block Development Officer (BDO) has been engaged on field duty to carry out necessary relief work and we are closely monitoring the situation. Our priority is to open links with our neighboring state of Sikkim,” said Mr S Mohan, the district magistrate of Darjeeling.
He informed that NH-55 that connects Sliguri with Darjeeling via Kurseong and NH-31(A) has been blocked due to falling rocks and mudslide after the quake. However, in the afternoon the NH-31(A) that joins Siliguri to Sikkim was opened to traffic.
There are reports of earthquake triggered landslide at several parts of the Hills, including Rongthon (Tindharia) near Kurseong and Sepoy Dhura (Sonada), the DM added. Several cracks have developed in 21st Mile, Pedong, Kalimpong Teesta Rambi area, Coronation Bridge and Lava, Kalimpong.
The Treasury Office in Kalimpong has been shifted to Town Hall in Kalimpong and a house in Doroga Bazar, Darjeeling has collapsed. Cracks have developed in the main hospital of Darjeeling, the Sadar Hospital. A total of 146 patients discharged themselves from the hospital out of the total 274, said a hospital official.
Most of the old buildings have developed fissures. Among them are Loreto Convent School and St Joseph College in Darjeeling, Turnbull School, in Darjeeling, the Mac Farlene Church, Dr Graham's Home School and Girls High School among several other schools damaged in Kalimpong.
Sister Teresa Lensky, superior of Loreto Convent School, said: “All the buildings will be examined closely before they are reopened.” All the educational institutions in the Kurseong sub-division were closed today as cracks had developed in many school and college buildings.
Army and Airforce Mount Rescue and Relief Operations in Quake Hit Sikkim on a War Footing
PIB, KalimNews, Gangtok, 19 September: A day after a powerful earthquake struck Sikkim, the Armed Forces have mobilized rescue and relief operation on a war footing. Two MI-17 helicopters of the IAF carried relief material and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) to Lachen and Mangan, the interior regions of North Sikkim. Over 5,000 army personnel, including ten columns of army engineers each comprising 15-20 personnel, were pressed into rescue operations immediately after the first tremors were felt at 1811 hours yesterday. Troops stationed in the area have provided shelter to over 1,500 people including 1,000 civilians at Gangtok and 200 civilians at Darjeeling.
Within hours after the earthquake, two C-130J Hercules Aircraft took to the skies last night with 203 NDRF personnel, sniffer dogs, search and rescue teams, medical personnel and carrying 9 tonnes of relief materials including tents, medicines and food stocks, from Air Force Station Hindon to Bagdogra. 
A team of 20 doctors from the Army Medical Corps (AMC) carrying 200 kg of essential medical supplies flew to Bagdogra from New Delhi this afternoon on board an IAF Avro aircraft. An MI-17 helicopter with medical team and relief equipment also took off from Bagdogra for Gangtok. Another two Cheetah helicopters from Bagdogra carried out aerial recce missions to assess the damage caused by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake with its epicentre on Indo-Nepal border in Sikkim.
Meanwhile, more men and material are being pressed into rescue and relief operations. One IL-76 with 100 volunteers of No.2 NDRF battalion and 8 tonnes of material flew from Chandigarh to Bagdogra this morning. 
It will come back and make another sortie tonight. To augment the relief operations, two AN-32 aircraft flew from Delhi to Bagdogra early today. Relief efforts are expected to pick momentum after the personnel of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) toiled throughout the night to restore traffic on the National Highway No.31 this afternoon.
Four ALH and Five Cheetah Helicopters are on standby at Sukna Military Station. Two Cheetah and one MI-17 Helicopters also on standby at Bagdogra Airbase. Besides this two Mi-17 Helicopters are kept on standby at Guwahati. They will be operational once the weather improves.
The Armed Forces have also suffered casualties due to the tremors last evening. Two Army personnel died near Zima, North Sikkim while a Junior Engineer of BRO was reported killed during rescue operation.
Rs 2 lakh for the dead and 1 for injured
PIB, KalimNews; The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh is grieved to learn about the loss of life due to the earthquake which struck the state of Sikkim and its neighbouring States. The Prime Minister has sanctioned an ex-gratia of 2 lakh each from the Prime Minister`s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of the persons deceased and 1 lakh each to those who got seriously injured in the earthquake. (Photo: Prabin Khaling)
CM visits affected areas
PIB, KalimNews, Gangtok 19th September: To make an assessment of damages caused to houses and properties in the rural and urban areas owing to the 6.8 magnitude earthquake which occurred about 6.11 pm of 18/9/2011 the Chief Minister of Sikkim Mr. Pawan Chamling accompanied by the Cabinet Ministers, MLAs, Zilla Adhakshya East, Chief Secretary and Secretaries and HODs, Members of GMC and East District Administration visited the Tashiling Secretariat, offices in and around the Secretariat complex, Sikkim Press and Police Head Quarter today in the morning. The Chief Minister also visited the areas in an around Gangtok and gave immediate relief to the local residence. He visited the collapsed house and cow shed of Dhan maya Cheettri and the collapsed four and half storied building of Raju Chhetri at Lumsey, Gangtok. The Chief Minister gave thirty thousand to Dhan Maya and Fifty thousand to Raju Chhetri as ex gratia payment to them.
The Chief Minister held a meeting at police Head quarter to discuss the modalities in dealing with the unfortunate incident that occurred during the last evening. He directed the Chief Secretary and HODs to mobilized and watch out the minutes to minute’s development of the situation. He also directed to the concern authority to clear the derbies of buildings to prevent further damages of others property. He also directed the concern authorities to make an assessment of the disaster and take immediate repair works and restore the electricity and road communication in the state. He directed to shift the Chief Minister Office at Samman Bhawan temporally and to make necessary temporary arrangement for other department wherever necessary. Mr. Chamling also asked the Lt. General Mr. Vinod Bhatia of Sukuna, Siliguri to coordinate with the state administration and share the information. He also asked the Army for restoration of boarder roads and interim help to the people in first aid and communication.
The Governor of Sikkim Mr. Balmiki Prasad Singh who was at New Delhi returned back to the state immediately in this noon. The Chief Minister updated His Excellency about the present situation of the state at Police Head Quarter, Gangtok.
Discussing about the present situation of the state, HE The Governor asked the Core-Commander Mr. Vinod Bhatia for the mobilization of Army and relief to the people. The Governor also asked the Army to coordinate with the state Administration to assess the information and damages in the state. He also took the information from the Chief Secretary and concern HODs about the disaster and necessary arrangements. He suggested holding a meeting tomorrow at 2.00 p.m at Raj Bhawan to take further necessary action to fight against this tragic situation.

An emergency meeting was held at Gram Vikash Bhawan today under the chairmanship of Minister RMDD Shri CB Karki to make an assessment of damages caused to houses and properties in the rural areas owing to the earthquake which occurred last evening. During the meeting the Minister issued instructions to all the ADC’s (Dev), DPO’s and BDO’s for assessment and gathering of damages reports and submit it to the Head Office. The damage reports should include details of life, houses, livestock and standing properties. They were also directed to make assessment of relief material required and to horizontally coordinate with their district line counterparts for relief and rehabilitation.
According to recent information received from the district the foundation of the hostel building of Soreng Sr. Secondary School has been totally damaged and many pucca houses at Dodak, West Sikkim have been extensively damaged. Three houses of Phunchenpong, West Sikkim have been totally damaged and the people have been evacuated from it. The shopping complex of Soreng has also been extensively damaged. According to recent information the death toll has risen to 25 in the state. To deal with the situation a State Control Room has been established at Gangtok Bazar in front of Tourism Department. (Photos: Prabin Khaling)
Earthquake Update in Sikkim and Elsewhere on 19 Sept, 2011 at 4.00 pm
PIB, KalimNews,Gangtok: The latest human casualties reported (by Governor) in Sikkim are 22, in addition to death of 2 Army personnel, 6 persons are reported to be still trapped. As indicated by Chief Secretary, Sikkim, 75 people have been hospitalized while 5 have been discharged. Several hundred public buildings and large number of private houses have suffered damage, The Secretariat building at Gangtok is also badly affected. Govt of Sikkim have announced ex-gratia compensation of 5 lakh for each death, 50,000 for major injury and 30,000 for cases of minor injury.
2. The National Highway-31A has suffered landslides at over 21 places, over a cumulative length of 700 meters. It was reported by Director General, Border Road Organization and Chief Secretary, Sikkim that the road could be opened for traffic by 4.00 p.m. today. The NDRF personnel who are stranded at Bagdogra will be able to reach Sikkim once the road is opened for traffic. (At 1.30 p.m. information has been received that NH-31A is functional till Singtam, 29 km short of Gangtok).
3. The damage of road from Gangtok to Nathula (61 kms) is yet to be assessed fully. The first 24 kms of road has been surveyed so far showing 12 landslides and severe damage to the road-formation over a cumulative stretch of 90 meters. Restoration of this road is unlikely to take place immediately, as indicated by DG, BRO.

4. The third important road in Sikkim which is affected badly is North Sikkim Highway from Gangtok to Chungthang (95 kms). About 400 meters of road-formation has been damaged due to 16 landslides. Restoration of this road too is likely to take some time.
5. The loss of life reported in Darjeeling area by Chief Secretary, West Bengal is 5. The Darjeeling-Siliguri road has been blocked by 2 landslides, Repair work has started and the road is likely to be opened for traffic today itself.
6. In Bihar, 2 persons are reported to have died; one due to earthquake related stampede (Darbhanga) and the other due to collapse of wall (Nalanda). The situation does not appear to be alarming.
7. As far as the Central agencies are concerned, restoration work of communication has started with full swing. The Border Road Organization, which has lost one Junior Engineer, is at work with maximum manpower and equipment to clear the landslides and restore communication at various points at NH-31A. Restoration work of Siliguri-Darjeeling road is going to be completed by 3.00 p.m. today. 120 columns of Army including 10 engineering columns have also been deployed in restoration/relief work.
8. Power situation has improved in the meanwhile. All the major power generating stations i.e. Teesta Stage-V, Rangit, Chukha, and Ramman with a total capacity of 845 MW have been made operational. 220 KV lines have been fully restored. Power supply (20 MW) to Gangtok is available. However, 66 KV line from Gangtok to Tadong is yet to be restored, which is to be done by the State Electricity Board. M/o Power has given instructions to the Power Grid personnel to help the State Electricity Board in the restoration work.

9. As regard telecommunication network, landlines have been fully restored. Out of 489 mobile towers / BTSs, 273 are functioning. The damage to the remaining 216 mobile towers is reported to be to the extent of 10-100%. M/o Telecommunication has indicated requirement over 20,000 litres of diesel daily to keep the BTSs operational. M/o Petroleum has been directed to make diesel available to the service providers on priority basis.
10. A team of 9 doctors and 10 paramedics despatched from Delhi by M/o Health & Family Welfare has already reached Siliguri. The team will proceed to Gangtok once the Siliguri-Darjeeling road is restored. Chief Secretary, Sikkim has, however, informed that there is no urgency of dispatching medical teams.
11. Nine NDRF teams were despatched yesterday. They have already reached Bagdogra over the night. They will proceed to Gangtok as soon as the road communication is restored. Chief Secretaries of West Bengal and Sikkim have been advised to take particular care to regulate and prioritize the movement of traffic on the road to avoid blockade due to sudden rush of vehicles, and to ensure that essential manpower, equipment and supplies required for relief and rescue work is able to get through first.
12. Although Chief Secretary, Sikkim has informed that there is no shortage of essential commodities, which is also corroborated by Secretary, M/o Food and Consumer Affairs, and M/o Petroleum & Natural Gas, instructions have been issued to preposition enough quantity of essential commodities particularly diesel and LPG, and despatch the same to affected areas, as soon as the roads are opened. Kerosene stock is available in Sikkim for 36 days, while availability of LPG is limited to 4 days.
13. Chief Secretary, Sikkim has been advised to open community shelters and feeding centres in inaccessible pockets. At present, 1500 persons have taken shelter in Army camps and 10 langars are being run to feed them. Chief Secretary, West Bengal has been advised to keep enough quantity of packets of dry foods, matchboxes, candle and medicine, ready at Siliguri for air-dropping. Presently, air dropping of food packets is not possible because of adverse weather conditions/heavy rains in and around Gangtok, But Defence Secretary has been advised to drop some packets quickly, weather permitting. The weather in Sikkim continues to be inclement. As a result, sorties by helicopters have not been possible so far today. However, helicopters, including an MN-17 for air-dropping of supplies, are in readiness. (Photos: Prabin Khaling)
14. Chief Secretary, Sikkim has been asked to designate one officer who would coordinate with the media. Similarly, media briefing/releases will be coordinated in Delhi by Ministry of Home Affairs.
15. The process to assess the damage due to earthquake is continuing. Another meeting of National Crisis Management Committee under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary is scheduled to be held at 7.30 p.m. today.
AAGSU in support of AASU and KMSS, condemns agriculture minister’s statement
PR, KalimNews, Guwahati, 19th Sept 2011: The All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU) apex organization of Gorkha students and youths of Assam condemns the statement of agriculture minister of Assam Nilomoni Sen Deka who have recently been promoted as Spokesperson wherein he has said that the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee (Samitee) the two organizations spearheading the illegal Indo-Bangla land swap deal and the big dams are professional agitators so agitation are their business along with the opposition regional political party Asom Gana Parishad.
In a statement issued to the media Nanda Kirati Dewan, Information and Publicity Secretary AAGSU said,’Nilomonisen Deka, the agriculture minister have forgotten the values and ethics of democracy being a minister and spokesperson of the Govt. of Assam. What surprises me is that he wanted to label all the people who took to streets as ‘fools’ in the recent days agitation against Indo-Bangla land swap deal and the bigdams. This is a sad moment for democracy and Assam and uncalled for and sheer neglected and underestimated statement of a minister disrespecting the sentiments of thousands of peaceful democratic citizens of Assam and his attempt to malign the images of Dr. Samujjal Kr. Bhattacharyya advisor of the AASU and Akhil Gogoi the General Secretary of KMSS is an evidence of disturbed mentality of the seasonal politician. With honest confession he must beg apology from the veteran leaders and people of Assam or face the consequences in the form of public outcry’.
‘I want to remind the minster that AASU, KMSS are very influential and hugely followed state’s students’ and peasants’ organizations hence respecting the sentiments of the people he should immediately hold his statement back for attacking the emotions of the common masses and dishonouring the democratic principles and values. This is a movement of people of Assam with 26 community students’ organization and the AAGSU is also one of the organizations along with the AASU, the KMSS and the AJYCP so he must make a public apology. The Chief Minister of Assam on moral grounds must seek explanation from Mr. Deka for undemocratic and irresponsible statement.’, Dewan added in the statement.
पूर्व विधायक भोजराज राईको विज्ञप्ति
कालिमन्युज:१८ सितम्बर २०११ को दिन आएको भुइँचालोले सिक्किम लगायत भारतका धेरै अन्य राज्य अनि नेपाल र बंगलादेशमा धेरै धन-जनको क्षति गरेको छ| यस महा-प्रलयंकारी भुइँचालोले सिक्किममा धेरै घरहरु पूर्णरुपले क्षतिग्रस्त भएको छ भने आंशिक रुपले त राज्यका प्रायः घरहरु नै प्रभावित भएका छन्| यस सम्बन्धमा पूर्व विधायक भोजराज राईले एक प्रेस विज्ञप्ति जारि गर्दै सबै एक्जुट भएर अघि आउने आव्हान गरेको छ। 

प्रेस विज्ञप्तिमा भनिएको छ धेरै मानिसहरुको अकाल मृत्यु, धन-जनको क्षति, पशुधनको क्षति आदि भुइँचालोले सिक्किममा ल्याएको अपुरणीय क्षतिहरु हुन्| यस स्तिथिमा राज्य आज शोकाकुल अवस्थामा छ| सबैले एका-अर्कालाई हौसला दिने र हातेमालो गर्ने समयमा सिक्किम गुज्रिएको बेला समस्त प्रभावित परिवारका लागी प्रकृतिले सहनशक्ति प्रदान गरुन भनि कामना सहित सम्वेदना व्यक्त गर्दछौं भनि राइले बताएका छ्न| प्रेस विज्ञप्तिमा अझ भनिएको छ दुखको यस घडीमा राज्य सरकारले जात-जाति, राजनीति, भूगोल भन्दा माथि उठेर राहत कार्यमा सहयोग पुरयाउने छ भन्ने आशा राख्दै केन्द्र सरकारले घटनाको तुरन्तै पछी सिक्किमको लागी पुरयाएको राहत र सहयोग प्रति हामी आभार व्यक्त गर्दछौं| यस दुखको घडीमा सबै एकजुट भएर सिक्किमलाई लागेको चोटमा मरहमपट्टी गर्ने आव्हान गर्दछौं|

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to KALIMPONG NEWS for exclusive coverage. Credit goes to Mr. AK Rai.