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Quake hits vast Himalayan region killing 63
by Staff Writers
Gangtok, India (AFP) Sept 19, 2011

Chronology of major earthquakes in India
New Delhi (AFP) Sept 19, 2011 - Here is a list of major earthquakes to have struck India following a quake in Sikkim that rocked northeast India and the surrounding region late on Sunday.

September 18, 2011: Border between India's Sikkim state and Nepal, magnitude 6.9, kills at least 45 people in India, Nepal and Tibet

August 11, 2009: Off India's Andaman Islands, magnitude 7.6, only property damage reported

February 14, 2006: Sikkim, magnitude 5.7, damages historic buildings but causes no deaths

October 8, 2005: Pakistan and India, magnitude 7.6, kills more than 73,000 people, mainly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and 1,300 in Indian Kashmir

December 26, 2004: India's coastal regions hit by Asian tsunami, triggered by massive earthquake off Indonesia, kills at least 11,000 Indians

January 26, 2001: Western state of Gujarat, magnitude 6.7, more than 20,000 people killed

March 29, 1999: Northern state of Uttar Pradesh, magnitude 6.8, more than 100 dead

May 22, 1997: Central state of Madhya Pradesh, magnitude 6.0, 40 dead

September 30, 1993: Western state of Maharashtra, magnitude 6.3, 7,601 dead

October 20, 1991: Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh state, magnitude 6.6, 768 killed

August 21, 1988: Indo-Nepal border, magnitude 6.5, about 1,000 killed

Rescue teams battled mudslides and torrential rains Monday to reach victims of a strong earthquake that rocked a remote Himalayan region, killing 63 people in India, Nepal and Tibet.

The epicentre of Sunday's 6.9-magnitude earthquake was an isolated area of the border between India's Sikkim state and Nepal, and there were fears the toll could rise as reports filtered in from distant towns and villages.

The heavy rains and low cloud grounded helicopters, and Indian relief and rescue teams trying to access the Sikkim state capital Gangtok had to clear dozens of landslides blocking the only viable highway.

"The biggest challenge now is to get the rescue teams to the affected areas," said Sikkim Information Minister C.B. Karki.

Thousands of troops were deployed to help clear the way to Gangtok and beyond, and by early evening trucks carrying rescue and relief supplies began to get through to the city after a long, perilous drive.

Stretches of the route were lined by locals and townspeople who had evacuated their homes and were too scared to return because of multiple aftershocks and rockfalls.

"We just had a landslide right here," said village shopkeeper Karma Mantor. "We are still in a state of panic. Nobody knows what is really happening."

The death toll in Sikkim stood at 35, with five people killed in Gangtok and the others dying in building collapses and rockfalls in outlying areas, including two soldiers on road-clearing duty.

"We cannot rule out more casualties," Indian Home Secretary R.K. Singh told a news briefing in New Delhi.

"There might still be villages where people are trapped. Sikkim is a hilly area and villages are far-flung," Singh said.

Tremors were felt more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away in New Delhi to the west, and in Bangladesh to the east.

In Nepal, police said a motorcyclist and his eight-year-old daughter were among three killed when a perimeter wall crumbled at the British embassy compound in the capital Kathmandu, 270 kilometres west of the epicentre.

Five others were killed in separate incidents in eastern Nepal.

More than 100 people were injured by mudslides, falling debris and collapsing buildings in Gangtok, where thousands faced another cold night in the open -- too frightened to return to their damaged homes.

"People are still very worried and tense. Everything is shut down and nearly everyone is still out in the street because they're scared of another quake," said Gangtok resident Indira Singh.

There was some relief as power, cut off by the quake, was restored to the city by Monday afternoon, but land line and mobile communications remained erratic, especially in the worst-affected areas.

Although the highway to Gangtok was largely cleared, roads heading north to Mangan near the epicentre were still impassable, posing a further challenge to rescuers and relief workers.

"I have family up there and I'm worried," said Namiya Tsering, 24. "We haven't been able to establish any contact with them."

The quake was felt across a wide region including the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan after it struck at about 6:10 pm (1240 GMT) on Sunday, according to the US Geological Survey.

Its epicentre was just over 60 kilometres northwest of Gangtok, at a relatively shallow depth of 19.7 kilometres.

The Press Trust of India said police rescued 15 foreign tourists in the north of Sikkim, a popular destination for trekkers.

Thirteen other people died in the Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal, while China's official Xinhua news agency said seven people had been killed in southern Tibet, near the border with Sikkim.

Nepalese police spokesman Binod Singh said hundreds of homes were damaged in eastern Nepal, where rescue workers faced the same problems as their Indian counterparts with rains and mudslides blocking the only highway to the area.

India's seven northeastern states, joined to the rest of the country by a narrow sliver of land known as the "chicken's neck," are located in an area of frequent seismic activity.

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Quake tragedy in Nepal as embassy wall collapses
Kathmandu (AFP) Sept 19, 2011 - A Nepalese motorcyclist was driving past the British embassy in Kathmandu with his eight-year-old daughter on board when a wall of the compound collapsed in earthquake tremors, killing them both.

Witnesses described how police dug through remains of the wall to search for any other victims as Sajan Shrestha, 36, his daughter Anisha and another man were rushed to emergency care.

All three were declared dead at the Man Mohan Memorial Hospital on Sunday evening, as the scale of damage from the earthquake centred in northeast India began to emerge.

"Police personnel were clearing the bricks and were trying to find out whether there were any additional casualties," Kailash Khadka, a local reporter, told AFP.

"A crowd with more than 100 locals had surrounded the area. There was a sense of grief, fear and anger over the incident."

Santosh Kumar Jha, a doctor at the hospital, told AFP that Shrestha was dead on arrival.

"Both had serious head injuries. We tried unsuccessfully to save his daughter Anisha but then the third patient, 19-year-old Bir Bahadur Majhi, was brought in.

"There was heavy bleeding and the relatives were crying."

John Tucknott, British ambassador to Nepal, visited relatives of the dead on Monday to express his condolences, as the mission said it would do everything possible to help those affected.

"The British embassy deeply regrets the deaths of three Nepali citizens and injuries to others as a result of the collapse of part of the embassy compound perimeter wall," it said in a statement.

The 6.9-magnitude earthquake was on the border of India's Sikkim state and eastern Nepal, and police in Kathmandu said hundreds of homes and at least 35 police posts were damaged in eastern districts.

Relief efforts have been hampered by heavy monsoon rain and the only highway into the remote area has been blocked by mudslides, Nepalese police spokesman Binod Singh told AFP.

"We have formed rescue teams in each affected district. They are assessing the damage and organising the rescue and relief operations," he said.

Nearly 500 houses were damaged in Taplejung and Panchthar districts, local officers said.

The death toll in Nepal rose to six on Monday after officials said a child had been killed in the country's northeastern hills when a house collapsed.

At least 45 people died in India, Nepal and Tibet.

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At least 19 killed as 6.9 quake rocks India, Nepal
Guwahati, India (AFP) Sept 18, 2011
A strong 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit northeastern India on Sunday, killing at least 19 people, including three caught in a wall collapse at the British embassy in neighbouring Nepal. The quake was felt across a wide region after it struck the small, landlocked Himalayan state of Sikkim - which borders Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet - at about 6:10 pm (1240 GMT), according to the US Geological Su ... read more

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