On the third day after a devastating quake hit the northeast, including Sikkim, the 95-km-long alternative road from Gangtok to Mangan, the headquarters of North District of the State, was opened for vehicular traffic on Tuesday.

While almost all the buildings in the town have developed cracks due to the impact of the high intensity earthquake on Sunday (6.8 magnitude), the worst-hit Chungthang, about 28 km from here, and other areas such as Bay, Saffo, Pegong, still remain inaccessible.

The death toll in the State, according to official figures, has gone up to 50.

District Medical Superintendent P.K. Basnett told The Hindu that the so far bodies of 15 victims had been brought to the hospital. “I have received official intimation that a large number of bodies, which have been recovered from places like Chungthang and other worst hit areas, would be brought or post-mortem. I don't know how we are going to handle such a huge number,” she added.

News is doing the rounds among the local residents of Managan, that many bodies are still buried under the debris of a tunnel of a hydel power project that collapsed under construction at Chungthang on river Teetsa. However, Collector S.K. Pradhan and Senior Superintendent of Police B.K. Tamang are camping in Chungthang to oversee the rescue operations being conducted by 200 specially-trained personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Army troops. Hence, they could not be contacted for confirmation.

The entire town presents a horrifying picture of collapsed buildings or houses showing dangerous cracks. Most men, women, children, still haunted by the nightmarish quake, sleep outside their houses, some in the open spaces of the town. The Ringhim monastery and the Ambithang Church collapsed, killing one person.

Another rescue team of the NDRF that arrived in the evening in the town is scheduled to begin search and rescue operations in the worst-affected areas.