15 killed as powerful earthquake jolts northeast
Gangtok: A powerful earthquake with a 6.8 magnitude jolted Sikkim and several areas of northeast and neighbouring Nepal today leaving at least 15 persons dead and over 100 injured besides causing extensive damage to several buildings. The epicentre of the quake – the biggest in two decades – was located at Mangan and Sakyong areas, over 50 km from Gangtok on Sikkim-Nepal border. Five persons were killed in Sikkim – two at Singtham (East), two in Rishi (West) and one in Mangan (North) as the government sought Army`s asistance in reaching help to the affected, state Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso told PTI here. Three persons were killed in Siliguri and adjoining Jalpaiuri in west Bengal while two others-a five-year-old girl in Nalanda and a youth in Darbhanga-lost their lives in Bihar. At least five people were killed in Nepal, three of them outside the British Embassy in Kathmandu, when a high brick wall collapsed. Many tall buildings shook and developed cracks in Gangtok and Darjeeling and window panes shattered as thousands of people ran out to the streets in panic. Two buildings of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) collapsed in Pegong area though there was no immediate report of any casualty, a senior official said. Communication links were snapped with mobile towers getting damaged. Gangtok and several other areas were plunged in darkness following major power failures. Heavy rains and darkness hampered relief operations in the night. Tremors were felt in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, parts of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Delhi.