Himalaya quake toll rises

Rescuers struggle to reach victims of quake that left 63 dead in India, Nepal and Tibet.

    Thousands of homeless villagers spent Monday night outdoors in heavy rains [AFP]

    Rescue teams are battling landslides and torrential monsoon rains after a powerful earthquake rocked a remote Himalayan region, killing at least 63 people and damaging more than 100,000 homes.

    Thousands of homeless villagers in the Himalayas spent Monday night outdoors in heavy rains after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake flattened houses in the mountains of India, Nepal and Tibet.

    Rescue workers with helicopters and earth movers have ferried supplies and dug through mudslides and reach victims.

    Three emergency workers were killed in the frantic rescue effort, R K Singh, the Indian home secretary, said.

    More than 6,000 army and paramilitary troops were working to clear concrete slabs, bricks and mud to rescue scores of people trapped under houses that collapsed when the quake struck the Himalayan region on Sunday evening.

    Singh said that heavy construction equipment was used to clear some of the blocked roads and nine helicopters dropped food to villages, airlifted a medical team, evacuated the injured and conducted damage assessments, Singh said.

    "The rescue and relief operations are in full swing though they were hampered ... by poor weather."

    At least 32 people died and 100 others were injured in the Indian state of Sikkim, where the quake was centered near the Nepal border, Singh said.

    Seven other people were killed in the neighbouring Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal, Singh said.

    Final toll unclear

    China's official Xinhua News Agency reported seven deaths and 24 injuries in Tibet. It said the quake triggered hundreds of landslides that disrupted power and water supplies.

    Deaths were also reported in Nepal, including two men and a child who were killed when a brick wall toppled outside the British Embassy in the capital city of Katmandu.

    Nearly 70 people were injured, some seriously, and were in hospitals across Nepal.

    Most of the deaths in India occurred when houses, already weakened from recent monsoon rains, collapsed due to the force of the quake. More than 100,000 homes were damaged in Sikkim state alone, state officials said.

    Singh said it was still unclear what the final toll might be.

    "There may still be villages where people are trapped under collapsed houses that we have not been able to reach," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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