Sikkim, which was rocked by an earthquake, experienced two aftershocks also on Sunday evening, prompting people in Gangtok to flee to open spaces to take shelter during the night. The entire city plunged into darkness with power supply disrupted. Telecommunication was also hit, affecting rescue work.
“There were also reports of collapse of two buildings in Gangtok. Rescue and search teams have been rushed to places from where these reports came. The Chief Secretary is coordinating the rescue and search operations through the Disaster Response control rooms. Power supply broke down, while telecommunication link is slowly being restored,” Director-General of Police, who was in Delhi to attend a conference of Director-Generals of Police, told The Hindu over telephone. The DGP said that he would rush back to Sikkim on Monday.
There were also reports of landslips in different parts of the State, disrupting surface communication.
Jayanta Tamuli, a PhD student at the Sikkim University, who was inside a saloon in Gangtok for a haircut, was horrified by the impact of the tremor. He took shelter on a corn field along with others in the neighbourhood. Everyone is afraid of going back inside their houses after the violent earthquake and two aftershocks.
The tremor also shook Guwahati and other parts of Assam and was felt for about 40 seconds. People ran out of their houses. Many were already on the streets because of Biswakarma puja celebrations. There is, however, no official report of any major damage.
“We have not got any report of damage from the earthquake which measured 6.8 on the Richter scale. Our control rooms have been alerted to get information about the impact of the earthquake,” said Principal Secretary V.K. Pipersenia.
Six teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been activated for the rescue mission in Sikkim and are awaiting requisition, said Public Relations Officer Manor Tiwari. Each team has 45 personnel, equipped with gadgets, victim tracking device, sniffer dogs trained to locate victims, and a communication system.