Indian Authorities Reach Quake-Affected Villages

Posted September 22nd, 2011 at 9:06 am (UTC-5)
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Authorities have reached remote villages in northeast India that have been cut off since Sunday, when a strong earthquake hit the Himalayan region, killing at least 109 people.

The epicenter of Sunday's quake was in the Indian state of Sikkim, but deaths and damage were also reported in West Bengal and Bihar states, Nepal, Bhutan and the Chinese region of Tibet.

Rescue efforts in Sikkim have been hampered by heavy rain, fog, and roads blocked by landslides. On Thursday, the weather cleared up, allowing helicopters to rescue those who have been wounded in the 6.9-magnitude earthquake. Helicopters also dropped food and other relief supplies to those who remain stranded.

Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram visited some of the hardest-hit areas of Sikkim. The minister said nine villages in the north are still cut off but that the army assured him they will be reached soon.

At least 75 people have been killed in Sikkim and 18 people have been killed in the Indian states of West Bengal and Bihar. Nepal has reported eight quake-related deaths. Seven deaths have been reported in southern Tibet, and one person was killed in Bhutan.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Sikkim's chief minister said Wednesday that the earthquake caused more than $20 billion in damage in the state.