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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Epicentre need not be as safe as Mangan....CM builds Sikkim bridge....MAMTA BANERJEE ASSURED ALL ASSISTANCE TO SIKKIM- Quake toll mounts to 92 ,Death toll 57 in Sikkim 3,000 rescued... 100-year Graham’s takes a battering...Giant razors roll and shave - Rumble below, rockets above...पहाड कति सुरक्षित र कति खतरामा छ ?...Foreigners cancel trips, domestic plans stay

Epicentre need not be as safe as Mangan
BIJOY GURUNG IN MANGAN AND G.S. MUDUR IN NEW DELHI, TT, Sept. 20: Mangan town, which many consider the epicentre of the quake, does not show extensive damage and only one death has been reported there so far.
The relatively unscathed appearance of Mangan has revived suggestions that epicentres of quakes are safe-haven oases that escape the brunt of the fury.
However, seismologists and earthquake engineers have cautioned that the strongest ground movements should be expected at the epicentre of the earthquake, quite unlike an atmospheric cyclone where the eye of the storm is calm relative to the high-speed winds around it.
The damage to buildings and other structures during an earthquake depends not just on their distance from the epicentre but also on the type of ground they stand on and the design and quality of construction, the earthquake engineers added.
Mangan town cannot be conclusively termed the epicentre, either. According to data available so far, the town falls within 50km of the epicentre of Sunday’s first — and the day’s biggest — earthquake of 6.8 magnitude. Seismologists have concluded that the epicentre of the 6.8 event was somewhere beneath the Kanchenjungha mountain, not Mangan.
But there is disagreement among seismologists over the location of epicentres of two subsequent events — 5.3 and 4.6 — both east of the primary shock.
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Engineering and Research, Calcutta, hope to pinpoint the epicentres after studying data on instruments at three sites — Yumthang, 20km north of Mangan, Rabangla, 15km south of Mangan, and Pangthang, 5km west of Gangtok.
“These instruments are closest to the events — we’re waiting for the data,” said Shyam Sunder Rai, a geophysicist at the National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad.
The lone death on the outskirts of Mangan town took place when a church collapsed on Nirmala Tamang, the 27-year-old wife of a pastor. The buildings in the town are intact with minor cracks here and there.
“People here are religious and resilient. They have not panicked,” North Sikkim district collector S.K. Pradhan said.
Entrepreneur Sonam Paljor added: “People are doing their normal duties. We are more worried about the road and power. We need to charge our mobile phones so we can call our near and dear ones.”
A lady running a restaurant in Mangan said: “We were serving food to our customers at our restaurant when the quake took place. Immediately, all the people rushed out into the streets. The lights also went off.”
“Almost everyone in the town spent Sunday night in the school playground and other open spaces. The number of people staying out in the night has come down though some people are spending the night in trucks and vehicles,” the restaurant owner in Mangan said.
The lady said she did not close her restaurant and resumed normal business the next day.
A seismologist explained how local effects play a role in the devastation that follows a quake. “The earthquake energy always weakens with distance from the epicentre — if we discount local effects,” said Hans Raj Wason, a seismologist and head of the earthquake engineering department at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee.
Local effects can dramatically amplify waves, depending on the type of ground where structures are located. Buildings standing on hard bedrock are relatively safer than those built on soft ground such as alluvial soils, he said.
An 8.1-magnitude temblor that shook Mexico in 1985 provides a classic example of destruction from amplification, Wason said. The epicentre was about 370km from Mexico City but over 200 buildings collapsed in the city. Scientists determined that many of these buildings were located on a reclaimed lakebed where layers of soft soil and clay amplified the ground-shaking 8-50 times relative to shaking over hard rock, he said.
But poor design and construction are also likely to have contributed to the damage elsewhere, according to structural engineers.
“I’ve seen some scary buildings — in Gangtok and in other places,” said Sudhir Jain, a civil engineer and director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, who has long been arguing for strict enforcement of building codes by state authorities across the country.
“The Gujarat earthquake in 2001 was a wake-up call — India made the earthquake safety codes in buildings mandatory after that,” Jain told The Telegraph. “But they need to be enforced uniformly across the country — we don’t think this is happening.”
The codes specify rules for the design of structures as well as construction material to be used to ensure that buildings do not crumble when they experience strong ground motion.
“The philosophy is: no loss of life despite damage to buildings,” said Shailesh Agarwal, director of the Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council, a government agency involved in earthquake-proofing efforts.
Structural engineers say poor design and construction had led to the collapse of several buildings in Ahmedabad during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake although there may have been some local site amplification.
Army operation in landslide affected areas
(Below Rescue operation in Chungthang)
Rescue and recovery of dead bodies in Pegaon
Clearing of landslides in North Sikkim Highway
An  aerial view of damaged North Sikkim Highway (All Above Photos: Prabin Khaling)
More pictures from HT

At Phengla

Local children gather for food distributed by Indian army personel on the outskirts of Gangtok. 6.8 quake: Rescue operation
A house damaged in the earthquake at Dikchu, Mangan, on Tuesday.A rumbled house at Mangan Photo: PTI
PIB, KalimNews, Gangtok 20th September, 2011: The Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee today assured all assistance to Sikkim, its neighbouring state, to cope up with the problems facing the state in the wake of a massive earthquake that followed a trail of devastation in terms of human casualties and loss of properties.
She was talking to media persons during her brief visit to Sikkim. On arrival at Gangtok this afternoon, she drove straight to the Central Manipal Referral Hospital at Tadong and saw the condition of the earthquake victims who are undergoing treatment. She enquired about the condition of patients undergoing treatment with the doctors attending on them. She was accompanied by Union Minister Mukul Roy and Lok Sabha MP from Sikkim P D Rai during the visit.
Banerjee later visited Sir Tashi Namgyal Memorial Hospital, STNM to see for herself the condition of the earthquake victims. She was accompanied by the Secretary, Health Department, Government of Sikkim Dr Kumar Bhandari.
The visit of West Bengal Chief Minister is seen as expression of her personal sympathy with the earthquake victims in the hour of suffering.
Meanwhile, in Sikkim,the death toll in the massive earthquake has now risen to fifty three. The death toll in the worst affected North district alone has risen to forty from yesterday’s figure of twenty four. Relief and rescue operations are continuing on a war footing.
The General Officer Commanding–in-Chief of the Eastern Command of the Army Lieutenant General Bikram Singh called on the Governor and Chief Minister and assured all help in relief and rescue operations in the affected areas.
Briefing the media, General Singh said that some five thousand five hundred army personnel are undertaking the relief and rescue work in the State. Three thousand of them are deployed in the North district alone. Besides, two hundred more have reached Mangan by road this morning. He said, thirty army personnel were air dropped at Mangan and twenty five at Chungthang to help in the operations.
General Singh said, army helicopters have taken thirty critically injured persons to the Army Hospital at Bengdubi near Siliguri in West Bengal which included fourteen civilians. Describing the situation in the North district beyond Chungthang as very bad, he expressed confidence that things will come to normal very soon. According to General Singh, 200 NDRF Personnel have reached Gangtok while forty have been sent to Mangan.

CM builds Sikkim bridge

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT,Gangtok, Sept. 20: Mamata Banerjee today became the first chief minister of Bengal to cross the Teesta and enter Sikkim, building a symbolic bridge for handling issues emerging out of the Darjeeling hills.
Sikkim had in the past suffered because of the Gorkhaland agitation, which led to repeated blockade of NH31A, the state’s sole link with the rest of the country.
A trouble-free Darjeeling means fewer worries for chief minister Pawan Chamling, while a friendly neighbour would ensure that Mamata can breathe easier.
The two chief ministers met at a guesthouse. “The Bengal chief minister’s visit is the biggest issue (for the moment). I thank her for her visit at this hour,” Chamling said after their 20-minute interaction.
Mamata said the people of Bengal and Sikkim were like “brothers and sisters…. Darjeeling, Kurseong, Jalpaiguri and Sikkim have been badly affected. The chief minister (Chamling) said that the death toll has now touched 50 and we have to work together at such times. Our people (from Bengal) are already helping,” Mamata said.
The chief minister’s whirlwind visit to Sikkim ended late in the evening as she stepped into a bungalow on Siliguri outskirts around 9.40.(more inputs from TT)
In the Darjeeling hills, the administration has started repairing roads wide opened by the tremor on Sunday evening. A number of roads were hit by landslides and the boulders blocking traffic have already been cleared.
“Minor landslides had hit the road between Kurseong and Darjeeling at many points. But the road has been restored for traffic now,” said an administrative official, who is closely co-ordinating the restoration with local bodies and NGOs.
The official said a status report would be prepared on the damage caused to buildings, roads and others structures by the quake as directed by the chief minister. He said most buildings in Kurseong had developed cracks and their repair would commence soon.
In Kalimpong subdivision, NH31A has been opened and the treasury office has been shifted to Town Hall. The traffic on the highway had been disrupted by boulders that rolled down from the hillside in the tremor. Several buildings, including the one where treasury office used to function.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has also started the assessment of the damage. “Our local committees have been asked to prepare a list of structures struck by the quake. The report will be sent to the state government for necessary help. I will also request the Centre to set up a disaster management cell in Darjeeling,” said Morcha president Bimal Gurung.
State minister for jails Shankar Chakraborty also made rounds in Siliguri. He is visiting jails in north Bengal to see whether the earthquake has caused any damage to prisons.
Quake toll mounts to 92; 3,000 rescued in Sikkim
PTI, Mangan, September 20, 2011: More than 3,000 people were rescued in quake-hit areas of Sikkim by defence forces which scrambled hard to clear debris of collapsed structures and landslides as the death toll in Sunday's powerful temblor shot up to 92, including 57 in the Himalayan state. Of the 53, 36 people died in the districts of North Sikkim, 12 in East Sikkim, four in West Sikkim and one in South Sikkim, a Relief Control Room official said in Gangtok.
The National Highway 31-A from Mangan to Gangtok was closed due to blockades caused by heavy landslides but an alternative road was reopened to help rescue teams reach the worst-affected areas.
A PTI correspondent who went around some of the quake-hit areas in and around Mangan found people in a state of shock, many afraid to enter their houses which have either developed cracks, tilted perilously or partially collapsed.
"If there is another tremor, my house will collapse. So we are waiting out in the open," said 74-year-old Dengji Sherpa surrounded by his family and villagers at Lachan.
Some others were seen trying to retrieve household goods from the debris.
The toll in Sunday's 6.8 magnitude strong earthquake has mounted to 92. Besides 53 in Sikkim, the toll has gone up to 12 in West Bengal, nine in Bihar and 11 in Nepal. There was no change in Monday's figure of seven deaths in Tibet.
As aftershocks continued, people were seen squatting on roadsides, public places and near temples.
Using helicopters, heavy lift transport aircraft and infantry troops, defence forces rescued more than 3000 people in the quake-hit areas of Sikkim and intensified efforts to extricate people trapped under the debris of collapsed structures.
IAF has airlifted more than 500 troops there, including the medical and engineering teams and is conducting sorties of heavy lift transport aircraft and choppers from Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Bagdogra to ferry troops and ensure supply of medicines and food.
"There are eight to 13 helicopters which have been pressed into service in conjunction with the Air Force. 35 heavy engineering plant equipments have been deployed to restore roads and communication lines," Deputy Director General of Military Operations Brigadier Ranbir Singh said in New Delhi.
Rescue efforts covering 62 villages and 20 medical centers have been set wherein over 370 people have been treated and 8 relief centers have been established where over 2700 people have been provided shelter.
On rescue efforts in Mangan, epicenter of the quake, he said, "281 troops have reached Mangan, including four medical and two engineering teams. A relief camp has been established there and communication teams are working to establish telephone lines."
20 medical centers have been set up in the quake-affected areas in Sikkim and 11 cook houses to provide relief.
A bus carrying 22 people which went missing in north Sikkim since the temblor struck was yet to be traced.
A spokesman of the 17 Mountain Division said the bus could be anywhere in a radius of 10 and 15 km along the quake epicentre Mangan and Chungthang and that efforts have been stepped up to track it.
With some improvement in weather, relief and rescue operations by Army and National Disaster Response Force(NDRF) personnel picked up in the afternoon.
"The biggest challenge now is to get the rescue teams to the worst-affected areas," said Sikkim Information Minister C B Karki.
For the second consecutive day, food packets and medicine pouches were airdropped in inaccessible areas of the mountain state and round-the-clock work is on to clear debris and open roads still blocked due to quake-triggered landslides. District collectors are overseeing the work.
The earthquake has left a trail of devastation cracking roads, damaging houses and other structures, uprooting mobile phone towers and snapping communication and power lines.
Power and telephone lines have been restored in Gangtok. But the fringe areas of the town are still without power and are cut off from the rest of the world.
IAF has also flown sorties of AN-32 aircraft from Jorhat and Delhi and have airlifted around 4.5 tonnes of medicines, Principal Director Operation (Transport and Helicopters) Air Commodore A Raghvendra said.
"So far we have conducted 16 sorties of transport aircraft, 18 helicopter sorties and have airlifted 23 tonnes of load and 500 personnel to Bagdogra," he said.
A senior Army officer said that in next few days, the operations would concentrate on opening other major roads in the state including Nathu La and in Gangtok which have been affected by landslides.
Many areas in Sikkim yet to get help
Pramod Giri, HT, Meyong, September 20, 2011:Debi Prasad Rasaily, 53, had to walk more than 20 km to reach Toong, 10 km from Pegong, the epicentre of Sunday's earthquake, to look for his relatives.
Carrying a picture of his cousin, Namgyel Bhutia (42) was seen asking people whether they had seen the man in the photograph.
Rasaily's relatives are safe. But Bhutia has given up hope his cousin is alive after he was buried under the debris in Safu, a few kilometres ahead of Toong.
It is at Safu that Tashi Lepcha and Sonam Lepcha were buried inside their Maruti 800 when the earthquake struck. In Toong, locals said many people were still buried.
Pasang Tshring, one of the few volunteers who could reach Toong, said: "I saw one body lying near the road since Sunday evening. There are many elsewhere."
Hundreds of people in North district are looking for their relatives, about whom nothing is known even as the army is airlifting bodies from Chungthang, the only place helicopters can access.
The armed forces had rescued more than 3,000 people from quake-ravaged areas of Sikkim, deputy director general of military operations Brigadier Ranbir Singh said in New Delhi on Tuesday. Rescue efforts are in full swing in 62 villages.
The northern part of Sikkim above Meyong, 8 km from district headquarters Mangan and one of the prominent tourist destinations, is unapproachable with no means of finding out how many are lying on the road with no medical help or government relief till Tuesday evening.
Places such as Chungthang, Lachen and Lachun near the India-China border are running without electricity from the time the earthquake struck and there is no phone connectivity.
KP Purushothaman, director (planning) of Project Swastik of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), which maintains the strategic road leading to the China border, said it would take not less than another 48 hours for road connectivity to be restored with affected places like Pegong.
Giant razors roll and shave - Rumble below, rockets above

AVIJIT SINHA AND BIJOY GURUNG, TT, Sept. 20: Vinod Marandi gingerly lifted his head and peered out of the IAF Mi-17 chopper window at the lofty mountains encircling him. His left leg lay battered in the stretcher, victim to the barrage of boulders unleashed by Sunday’s quake.
The mountains looked majestic and serene to Marandi. But the rain of boulders – a fearsome burst from up above that followed the ferocious growl from deep below on Sunday evening -- had left their mark, cutting a swathe through the lush greenery, leaving it stripped bare and crushing several lives.
“It seems as though someone has shaved a section of the mountain with a razor from the top to the bottom,” said a member of the IAF rescue team, capturing through an everyday description the intensity of the power nature had unleashed, seemingly with the same ease that the removal of facial hair requires.
“The trees and greenery have been wiped off the face of the mountain, bringing the rock and soil to the surface,” the team member added, the sight unfolding before him and the impact sinking in.
Several denuded patches could be spotted dotting the mountains as the chopper flew past, carrying Marandi and his injured colleagues to safety. The Mi-17 had set out from the Bagdogra IAF base at 8.45am for remote Thung in North Sikkim with food packets, medicines and other relief materials.
“It’s tough to forget that evening when we faced Nature’s fury,” said Marandi, one of four construction workers and two Sikkim police personnel who had come on board. The workers, from Jharkhand’s Ramgarh, had been working on a project near Chungthang in North Sikkim.
“The hills were trembling and the houses were shaking like toys. I ran for my life but I slipped and fell when a boulder hit my leg. Later, my colleagues rescued me,” Marandi said.
The foursome had been relaxing after work inside their makeshift concrete-and-tin shed in the mountains when the quake struck on Sunday evening. Within minutes, rocks and boulders of all shapes and sizes had begun their deadly roll of devastation.
A huge boulder crushed the tin roof their shed, sending the workers scampering outside. “We somehow ran out because everything was shaking violently,” said Asheswar Munda, one of Marandi’s colleagues who was hurt in the scramble.
“Rocks, pebbles, stones and debris were chasing us down from all sides. We had no clue where to hide or how to escape Nature’s wrath. We simply prayed to God to save us.”
Charan Munda, also injured, echoed Asheswar. “It was horrifying. As we ran out, the ground was still shaking. On top of that, rocks and stones of all sizes were rolling down towards us from the mountaintops.
“We could not shelter behind walls for fear they would collapse. The stones just kept coming at us even after the tremors ended.”
The last member of the quartet who was lucky to escape unhurt painted an equally scary picture. “Imagine that you are standing in the darkness and rocks are hurtling down with a deafening rumble, hitting houses, people, everything in their way. It was a nightmare,” he said.
This morning, when the copter began dropping food packets, the people of Thung had been restrained. Not a single person had run to grab the packets as the chopper hovered over their heads. A while later, a few people had carried Marandi out in a stretcher, prompting the pilot to touch down.
“We had no option but to draw the attention of the IAF crew so they could take the injured away for treatment,” said policeman Mahesh Dungel, who was unhurt. His colleague Man Bahadur Gurung, however, broke his jaw.
An IAF official said the force had been engaged in relief work since Monday morning. “We have engaged two C-330 and two IL-76 aircraft, two An-32s and one Avro aircraft to bring in relief material and doctors,” he said. “From Bagdogra, four Mi-17 and four Cheetah helicopters have been pressed into service.”
The boulders accounted for the largest casualties reported so far from a single incident. Nine employees of company working on a Teesta hydel project were crushed to death at Salim Payel, 20km from Mangan, when the stones fell on their vehicle. A 63-year-old assistant general manager, D. Gupta, on the project was also killed in a separate incident.
The beehive of craters caused by the landslides has mounted hurdles before the army and the national disaster response force (NDRF) that are making stuttered progress towards the marooned Chungthang in North Sikkim, some 100km away from Gangtok.
Of the 53 deaths confirmed in Sikkim till this evening, as many as 40 have occurred in North Sikkim alone. Most of the casualties were traced to areas in and around Chungthang subdivision, where road links were not restored till late this evening.
Six hundred personnel the Border Roads Organisation’s (BRO) Project Swastik are trying to clear the 30 major and minor slides along the 18-km stretch between Meyong and Chungthang. Meyong, 8km from Mangan, was the last accessible point for road traffic this afternoon.
Closely following the BRO task force are a dozen army trucks filled with plastic water tanks and other relief material and five buses carrying NDRF team from New Delhi. Sikkim’s sole lifeline -- NH 31A — was cleared yesterday afternoon and Mangan, the North district headquarters, was made accessible this morning.
“The road towards Chungthang is blocked here by boulders which have slipped from the hill side. We are targeting to clear this hurdle in a couple of hours,” Project Swastik director K.P. Purushottaman said at Meyong in the afternoon.
The toughest hurdle awaiting the task force is at Theeng on the way to Chungthang, where some 200 metres of road had been completely swept off. “There is basically no road at that point. We have to cut inside the hill to make a path for allowing traffic movement,” Purushottaman added.
“Roads to other parts of the district through Mangan is closed. Dzongu and Chunthang, the largest populated areas in the district, are also cut off. The army and district officials are reaching these areas on foot,” said North district collector S.K. Pradhan. Dzongu is a protected area of Lepchas, the indigenous tribal community of Sikkim.

100-year Graham’s takes a battering - seven boarders’ cottages evacuated, some classes off at kalimpong school

RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Kalimpong, Sept. 20: Sunday’s earthquake has caused extensive damage to the 111-year-old Dr. Graham’s Homes, forcing authorities of the premier educational institution in the hill town to suspend classes from nursery to Class VIII till October 10.
The school will remain open for students of Classes IX, X, XI and XII.
The quake has damaged 19 of the 22 cottages that house the co-ed school’s 900-odd boarders. Some classrooms, too, have developed cracks. The Katherine Memorial Chapel and the Steele Memorial Centre, the school’s infirmary, have also developed multiple cracks.
Seven of the 19 damaged cottages have been evacuated. “We have accommodated the boarders from the seven cottages in other cottages and the KG section,” headmaster S.L. Banerjee said.
Most of the damaged cottages are over 100 years old.
Spread over 500 acres, the school, founded in 1900 by Scottish missionary Dr John A. Graham, also has a workshop, a bakery, three playgrounds and a farm.
The headmaster said some of the 11 staff quarters, including his, had suffered structural damage. “Initially we thought we would carry out repairs during the Puja holidays (scheduled from October 2 to 10). However, engineers advised us that given the widespread damage, it would take more time to repair the structures. That is why we decided to suspend classes from nursery to Class VIII from today till October 10,” he added.
The school has a student strength of 1,460, of whom 920 are boarders.
The boarders whose classes have been suspended have started leaving for their homes. “They will return on October 11 and, normally, classes will resume the next day,” Banerjee said.
The headmaster said the damaged structures didn’t appear to be beyond repair. “We have not estimated the damage caused to our property. We will have to look at the comparative costs of restoration and of rebuilding the damaged properties,” he added.
The seven other ICSE schools in the town resumed classes from today after a day’s holiday following the quake.
“The other schools have not suffered much damage,” said E.B. Sherpa, the president of the Kalimpong unit of the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation’s ICSE/CBSE wing.
Sherpa said his organisation would soon hold a meeting to discuss the damage caused to Dr. Graham’s Homes.
“Homes is a heritage school of not just Kalimpong but the entire hills,” he said. “We will all come together to help Homes recover from the destruction.”
भूकम्पमा परी सिक्किममा ज्यान गुमाउनेको संख्या बढदो, नेपाल, भारत र तिब्बतमा गरी ५८ को मृत्यु
सुन्दर संसार ड्ट कम :भारतको पूर्वी–उत्तर राज्य सिक्किममा मात्र भूकम्पमा परी ज्यान गुमाउनेको संख्या ५३ पुगेको छ। ६ दशम्लव नौ रेक्टरको भूकम्पका कारण कयौं राज्यमा सयबढि मानिस घाइते भएको भारतीय अधिकारीहरुको भनाइ छ। वर्षा र पहिरो आउनेक्रम जारी रहेकोले भूकम्प प्रभावितहरुलाई राहत तथा उद्वारको लागि समस्या भएको प्रहरीले बताएको छ ।
यसै गरि तिब्बतमा पनि यही शक्तिशाली भूकम्पका कारण सात जनाको ज्यान गइसकेको छ ।आइतबार काठमाडौंको लैनचौरस्थित बेलायती दूतावासको पर्खाल भत्किएर च्यापिँदा गोरखा भुम्लिचोकका ३६ वर्षीय साजन श्रेष्ठ, उनकी छोरी ८ वर्षीया अनिशा र सिन्धुली मरिनका २० वर्षीय वीरबहादुर माझीको मृत्यु भएको थियो। घटनामा घाइते भएका उनीहरुको मनमोहन अस्पतालमा उपचारका क्रममा ज्यान गएको थियो ।
राजधानी लगायत मुलुकभरी भूकम्पका कारण ज्यान गुमाउनेको संख्या बढेर एघार पुगेको छ । भूकम्पका कारण भक्तपुर सुनसरी, बारा, झापा र धनकुटामा थप चार जनाको मृत्यु भएको छ । भक्तपुर गठठ्घरकी ६५ बर्षीया लिला पौडेलको आज बिहान उपचारका क्रममा मृत्यु भएको छ । त्यसै गरेर धनकुटाको फलाँटे-५ मा पनि ४० बर्षीया मधु कार्कीको मुत्यु भएको प्रहरीले जनाएको छ । भूकम्पका कारण घर भत्कीदा घाईते पौडेल र कार्कीको उपचारका क्रममा मृत्यु भएको थियो । त्यस्तै सुनसरी हरिपुर गाविसकी सावित्रीदेवी मण्डलको भूकम्पले घर भत्कादा मुत्यु भएको प्रहरीले पुष्टि गरेको छ ।
त्यस्तै भुकम्पका कारण बारामा एक जना युवकको मृत्यु भएको छ । भगवानपुर ५ निवासी भोला पासवानका ३४ वर्षिय छोरा जयसीलाल पासवानको मृत्यु भएको हो । साँझ आएको भुकम्पको धक्का महसुस भएपछि अर्ध बेहोस भएर बिरामी परेका पासवानको गएराति ११ बजे घरमै मृत्यु भएको हो ।
त्यस्तै झापाको मेचीनगर नगरपालिका-१० काँकडभिट्टाकी एक बालिकाको गएराति भूकम्पले तर्सेर मृत्यु भएको छ। मेचीनगर-१० भानुटोल निवासी कृष्णप्रसाद घिमिरेकी पाँच वर्षीया छोरी आयुषाको मृत्यु भएको प्रहरीले जनाएको छ। आमा रेनुको काखमा बसिरहेकी आयुषा भूकम्पका कारण तर्सिएर बेहोस भएकी थिइन् । बेहोस घिमिरेलाई स्थानीय मनिषा मेडिकलमा उपचारका लागि लैजाँदै गर्दा बाटैमा मृत्यु भएको बुबा कृष्ण घिमिरेले बताउनुभयो ।
यस अघि हिजो बेलुका आएको भूकम्पमा परेर काठमाडौंको लैनचौरस्थित बेलायती दूतावासको पर्खाल भत्किदा पुरिएर गोरखाका साजन श्रेष्ठ, अनिशा श्रेष्ठ र सिन्धुलीका वीरबहादुर माझीको मृत्यु भईसकेको थियो । त्यसै गरेर सुनसरीको धरानमा घरले च्याप्पिएर ओखलढुङगाका सन्तोष परियार र विमला परियार तथा संखुवासभामा प्रदीप राईको मृत्यु भएको छ ।
भूकम्पका कारण पहिरो खसेर सडक अबरुद्ध हुँदा धरान–धनकुटा राजमार्गको भेडेटार–माबासे सडक अबरुद्ध भएको छ । संखुवासभा, ताप्लेजुङ लगायतका जिल्लामा घरहरुमा क्षति पुगेको छ । भारतको सिक्किम र नेपालको ताप्लेजुङ आसपासको क्षेत्रलाई केन्द्रबिन्दु बनाई हिजो बेलुका साढे ६ बजे ६ दशमलव ९ रेक्टर स्केलको भूकम्प गएको थियो । भूकम्पका कारण ५ दर्जन बढि घाईते भएका छन् । उता भारतमा भने १३ जनाले ज्यान गुमाईसकेको भारतीय सञ्चारमाध्यमहरुले जनाएका छन् ।
त्यस्तै भुकम्पले राजधानीमा मात्रै दुईसय भन्दा बढी घाईते भएका छन् । पूर्वतयारी अवस्थामा नरहे पनि वीर, शिक्षण, पाटन र भक्तपुर अस्पतालले आकस्मिक कक्षका सबै शैयाका अतिरिक्त भूईंमा राखेर बिरामीको उपचार गरेका थिए। वीर अस्पतालका आकस्मिक विभाग प्रमुख डा डिपी सिंहले दिएको जनकारीअनुसार वीर अस्पतालको आकस्मिक कक्षमा आइतबार करिब ८० जना घाइते उपचारका लागि आएका थिए ।
आकस्मिक कक्षमा हाल ४२ शैया राखिएका छन् । ती शैया नपुगेर भूईंमा नै घाइतेको उपचार भएको थियो । तीमध्ये अधिकांश घर फर्किसकेका र केही जाने क्रममा रहेको अस्पतालले जानकारी दिएको छ । तीमध्ये अधिकांश भूईंचालो आएपछि आत्तिएर भागदौड गर्ने, घरका कौसीलगायतबाट आत्तिएर हाम फाल्ने क्रममा हातखुट्टा भाँच्चिएर उपचारमा आएका थिए।

Destructions caused by earthquake of 18th September 2011 in Kalimpong (Photo report of Samiran Paul)
Photo:A class room of an old school
A room of Chitra Bhanu , Kalimpong
A building of Arts & Crafts centre in Malli Road
(Photo below- Bhim Tamang of Jaldhaka on the spot where he was hit by boulders seconds after the eartquake of 18.09.2011 and later body recovered by the Jaldhaka Police. note: Please do not magnifyPhotos courtesy Binod Sotang:)
Earthquake! 19 September 2011
Gowri Mohanakrishnan, SNS: Sunday evening, Biswakarma Puja Day. It was chilly and it had been raining for nearly 24 hours. My daughter Swati, my husband Mohan and I were sitting with our cups of tea. We were arguing idly about whether we should catch a movie later in the evening. Suddenly Swati said: “Earthquake!”
I had just felt a little movement, but hadn’t identified it. “Run, Ma!” she said, and already, everything was shaking violently. A loud grinding and rumbling sound could be heard. We were rattled. The lights went out at once. The noise was frightening. Once we made it outside, we stood holding each other at the door. We knew we should be running down the stairs but we couldn’t move. The building was rocking violently. It felt as if everything would come crashing down any second. We heard people wailing loudly from the direction of Siliguri. The last time I’d heard that many people shouting was when India had won the cricket World Cup.
We stood hugging one another, unable to do anything more than keep our balance. It was pitch dark. We couldn’t see the stairs. As soon as the shuddering stopped, the lights came on and we took the stairs down, gingerly, because they were slippery after the rain. Two young girls who live upstairs rushed down, sobbing loudly. Everyone in the three buildings that make up our apartment complex had come down. No one was hurt but people were just too scared to go back inside.
We looked up and wondered if the structures would all come down any minute. We saw tall cracks ~ as high as 12-14 feet ~ around many of the walls and pillars on the ground. “We should live in a bungalow again!” I said to my husband, Mohan. We’ve felt a number of mild earthquakes over the years. In a bungalow, it would take us a moment to run out on to the front lawn! And those old tea bungalows were built to withstand more than earthquakes.
Ten days ago, Delhi had an earthquake. My brother and I were chatting about it on gmail last week.
“Was it scary?” I asked. “Nothing serious ... not scary ... but it’s a unique feeling ... a wave which passes through your body ... your head stops feeling it by the time your legs start feeling it.”
“You make me want an earthquake!!!!” I had written... and he reminded me of these words when I spoke to him later in the evening. It felt a little eerie to re-read that chat. He’d written: “The feeling reminded me of all of us watching the landslide in oozes.”
Sunday’s quake had its epicentre in Sikkim, less than 60 km from Siliguri. Time calmed us all down. I stopped holding on to my daughter. We walked around a little freely. We tried to call our elder daughter in Delhi. All the phone lines were jammed with similar panic calls.
My husband walked around inspecting the cracks with some of our neighbours. “Only the brick work and plaster have cracked,” he announced. “The pillars are unharmed.” Only then did we think of climbing the stairs back up to see what damage had been done to our flat. No, the building was not going to collapse for now. Still, all the neighbours pulled their cars out of the ground-floor parking lot and parked them out in the open.
Inside the flat, we grabbed our cooling cups of tea and checked the damage. A broken photo frame, a chipped plate, some books knocked down. My puja in disarray. Nothing too bad. Nothing that couldn’t wait till later. We put on floaters so that we could run if required, and went downstairs to wait in case there were aftershocks.
Swati and I sat down in the car, though her dad and herself had already decided not to drive out to the wide open spaces like I wanted to. They both said we ought to leave the roads free for people who might need to be rushed to the hospital. We eventually managed to make our phone call to our daughter Parvati, alone in Delhi, scaring and reassuring her in the same breath.
Three young boys from the our building walked by. They were in high spirits. “We could have died!” one announced happily in a loud voice.
“How many times have we studied earthquakes in class? Who ever thought we would actually feel the earth shaking?”
Swati and I couldn’t help laughing when we heard them.
It turned out the boys had been to the movie ~ the one we’d been debating about. They’d all rushed out of the hall when the false ceiling had started crumbling and the hall filled with clouds of dust.
One boy levelled with my window. “You are going to sit the whole night in the car, Aunty?” he asked.
He couldn’t have been more than eleven, and he’d braved the earthquake in the movie hall.
“That will be silly, no?” I replied adding: “Want to sit with us?”
He ran for his life. Again.(The writer is a Siliguri-based freelance contributor)
पहाड कति सुरक्षित र कति खतरामा छ ?
डी के वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ २० सितम्बर: भुँईचालो, पैह्रो जस्तो विनासकारी लीलाहरुसंग जुझ्न के पहाड अनि पहाड्का मानिसहरु तयार छन भन्ने प्रश्नले अहिले सबैलाई सताई रहेको छ। गता १८ सितम्बरमा गएको भुँईचालोले झन यो प्रश्नलाई अझ जटील बनाई दिएको छ। प्रत्येक वर्ष पहाडमा आपत्कालीन अवस्थाहरु आईरहन्छन । प्राकृतिक प्रकोपहरुमा प्रत्येक बर्ष मान्छेहरुले आफ्नो ज्यान समेत गुमाइरहेको घटना पनि प्रकाशमा आईरहेको छ । आपत्कालिन अवस्थामा मानिसहरु आफ्नो सुरक्षाको निम्ती सोँच्छन तर यस्ता आपदहरु टरेपछी कसैलाई कुनै पर्वाह समेत हुँदैन। सरकारी निकायका अधिकारीहरु पनि आपद अवस्थामा मानिसको ज्यान बँचाउने अनेकन परियोजनाहरु तयार पार्छन अनि समयको गतिसँगै ती कागजी परिकल्पनाहरु कागजमै सिमित बन्दै आईरहेको छ। शहरमा दिनोदिन बड्दै गईरहेको जनसंख्या अनि बहुतल्ले भवनहरुको निर्माणले पनि शहरवासीलाई दिनो दिना खतराको बाटोतिरा डोहोऱ्‍याई रहेको सचेत मानिसहरु बाताँउछन ।
हालै भुँईचालोले मच्चाएको बिनस्कारी लीलाले समेत यस्ता खतराहरु प्रति सङ्केत दिएको छ । मान्छेहरु आफ्नो ईच्छापूर्तिको निम्ति प्रत्येक कार्यहरु गर्न पछि पर्दैनन् । तर ती ईच्छापूर्तिका निम्ति गरिएका कार्यहरु आफैको निम्ति कति घातक हुनसक्छ भन्ने सोँच समेत राख्दैनन् । बहुतल्ले भवनहरु जथाभावी निर्माण गर्छन् अनि घर वरिपरीरहेको झोडा नालाहरु साफ सफाई राख्नुको बिपरीत समान र मैलाको थुप्रोहरुले पुरिदिन्छन् । बिभागीय अधिकारीबाट नोटिस आउँदा समेत मौन बस्न पछि पर्दैनन्। बरु राजनीति गरेर उल्टो आफ्नै कार्य सही ठहऱ्‍याउँन समेत पछि पर्दैनन् अनि कुनै आपद आए असुरक्षित रहेको बताउँदै बिभाग प्रतिनै दोष दिन्छन् । यस्तो स्थितिमा पैह्रो र भुँईचालोले ल्याएको बिपदमा मानिसहरुले आफ्नै ज्यान समेत गुमाएको घट्नाहरु प्रकाशमा आउँदा मान्छेहरुको चेत नखोल्नु कसको दोष हो ? एउट उत्तर विहीन प्रश्नले सबैलाई झक्झकाई रहेको छ ।
एकातिर जनसाधरणको जति दोष देखिएको छ त्यतिनै दोष बिभागीय पक्षको पनि रहेको छ यस्ता बिपदका घट्नाहरु हुनमा। प्राकृतिक घट्नाहरुको बहानामा मान्छेहरु आफ्नो दोषलाई ढाकछोप गर्न खोजेपनि वास्तवमा प्राकृतिक घट्ना पछि हुने दुर्घटनामा भने आफ्नै दोष छ भन्ने मानिसहरु स्वीकार गर्दैनन् ।
अवैद्य भवन निर्माण गर्नु, नाला झोडा बन्द गर्नु अनि त्यसपछि प्राकृतिक प्रकोपको बहानामा घट्ने दुर्घटनाको कारक तत्व के मान्छेहरुनै होइनन् ? भन्ने प्रश्न पनि उत्तिकै टट्कारो रहेको छ। आज पहाडभरीनै बहुतल्ले भवनहरु जथाभावी निर्माण भइरहेको छ । बिभागीय अधिकारीवर्गलाइ पनि भवन वैद्य र अवैद्य रहेको जांच् गर्ने फुर्सद नै छैन अनि जव आपतकालको अवस्था आउँछ तब एकाएक अवैद्य भवन जाँच्न दौड धुप गर्छन् । के यसरी पहाडलाई आपत्कालको अवस्थाबाट बँचाउन सकिएला भन्ने प्रश्न पनि उत्तिकै टट्कारो र उत्तरविहीन रहेको छ ।
Foreigners cancel trips, domestic plans stay
AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Siliguri, Sept. 20: The tremor has taken its toll on the tourism sector with a good number of foreigners cancelling their trips to Sikkim.
The tour operators hope that domestic tourists will stick to their travel plans for the festive season and are keeping their fingers crossed.
The cancellation of bookings has come as a double whammy for the tour operators as many hotels in Sikkim have been damaged in the quake.
“It would take time for the situation to turn normal in Sikkim. Cracks and crevices have appeared in hotels, which need repairs. Thousands of tourists flock to our state during Durga Puja and Diwali. But a large number of foreigners cancelled their bookings after the tremor,” said Lukendra Rasaily, the secretary of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim.
“There have been no cancellations by domestic tourists yet; so, we are banking on them now.”
Rasaily said 50-odd tourists, including two Norwegian women, were left stranded at Lachung in North Sikkim after the earthquake. “We have no information about a group who had gone for a trek to Dzongri. Tourists in Lachung are safe and in good health.”
The quake has come as a major jolt to the tourism sector which had just started recovering in north Bengal and Sikkim after years of tumult in the Darjeeling hills.
“The tourism industry was affected by strikes and road blockades in the hills in the past three-four years. After the signing of the GTA agreement, things had started to look up and we had expected a brisk business during the Puja holidays. There were indications that thousands would pour in with reservations full on trains and buses and almost no rooms lying vacant in destinations like Gangtok, Darjeeling and Lataguri,” said a Siliguri-based tour operator.
“But the tourists are apprehensive after the natural disaster that claimed many lives and maimed many people and caused immense damage to properties. We don’t know what is there in store for us.”
The hoteliers now hope the domestic tourists would save their day.
“We are flooded with inquiries from domestic visitors. Fortunately, there have been no cancellations by them so far,” Samrat Sanyal, the president of the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association, told The Telegraph over the phone from Ahmedabad.
The association is doing its bit to keep people posted of the situation after the quake.
“We have a two-fold task now. First, we will collect updates on roads and other developments and post them on the Internet. Second, our members will visit destinations like Lava, Kalimpong and Darjeeling and assess the damage caused by the earthquake,” said Raj Basu, an adviser to the association.
Sleepless under the sky
SNS, Gangtok/Darjeeling, 19 SEPT: Braving cold and pouring rain, frightened residents spent the night outside their homes in the areas rocked by yesterday's quake in Sikkim and West Bengal.
Roads were torn up, buildings cracked, phone towers and electricity posts toppled in the 6.8 magnitude quake which triggered such a panic that an official said injured people refused to get themselves admitted at Gangtok's STNM Hospital out of fear after its walls developed several cracks.
Several tourists from West Bengal were stranded in Gangtok, Namchi and Kumgon in Sikkim with most of the connecting roads severely damaged, cracked open and blocked due to landslides.
Shelters were provided by authorities to the affected people rendered homeless while the Army opened kitchens and served food to around 2,000 people in and around Gangtok.
Schools, colleges and government offices were closed in the quake-hit areas today and only a few shops remained open. People in Darjeeling and several towns in Sikkim left the main doors of their homes open fearing aftershocks.
“We were all ready to take refuge in the open should there be more quakes... It was scary as there was total darkness in the absence of electricity in many areas,” Mr Angshuman Talukdar, a resident of Darjeeling, said.
In many areas, power returned at around 10.30 p.m., but a large number of people preferred to brave the cold and pouring rains instead of returning to their homes. Mr Talukdar, a resident of an apartment building near the station, said a large number of people preferred to stay in the government school compounds as several homes had developed cracks.
The staircase of his five-storied apartment building has partially collapsed under the impact of the tremor.
“We felt several small earthquakes last evening after the big one but none today ... The people are aware that this region is in high seismic zone and are therefore more scared,” he said.
Officials said that around 70 per cent of all houses and buildings in Sikkim were damaged.
“Around 1,000 structures have collapsed while a total of one lakh buildings and houses have been damaged,” the state government said.
The state secretariat building and at Tashiling and Sadar police station is also damaged.
A group of 14 tourists were rescued by the Army from North Sikkim last night, officials in the district control room in Gangtok said. They have been admitted to Chungthang Army Hospital.
The quake which also jolted Jharkand left a 70-foot-long crack on the NH-75 in Latehar district, disrupting vehicular traffic.
“The crack came up after the tremor in Latehar district last evening,” Sadar sub-divisional officer Mr Rajesh Pathak told newsmen in Latehar.
“The tremor left a 70-foot long/10-foot deep crater on the road disrupting traffic near Sikni Colliery. Road restoration work is on,” he added.

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