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Sikkim: Fate of remote, quake-hit hamlets unknown

By Saibal Gupta
September 20, 2011 20:43 IST
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As scenes of devastation unfolded in Mangan, the worst-hit Sikkim district two days after the powerful earthquake, the fate of many remote hamlets, including several which are popular among tourists, is still not known.

Chong Nagin, the village head of Lachung, said that on the fateful day he was in Gangtok and has not been able to reach his village. Lachung is a tourist attraction with several hotels and guesthouses, where people stay on their way to Yumthang valley.

"My assistant Tendeep has sent news that the situation is horrible. I don't know how many have died or were injured," he said.

"Lachung is like a plateau surrounded by mountains. Huge rocks rained down on the village during the temblor and people did not know where to run," Nagin said.

He said that nearly 70 workers of MG Contractors were constructing a road from Damang to Chubakha, but there was no news of them since Sunday.

"I am trying to reach Lachung today as I am desperate to know how my people are," Nagin said.

Though the road to Mangan from Gangtok was cleared today, the highway from Mangan to Chungthang remained cut off.

In another road construction site at Thangu, there was still no news of nearly 70 labourers who were working on a 26-km road from Ziabong to Kerong.

"I have been able to reach up to here today, but have still not got any news of them," said Swapan Chakraborti, manager of the Siliguri-based construction company.

This PTI correspondent came across a group of 10 construction workers from Tezpur in Assam who were walking down from Chungthang.

"As there is no connectivity, we started walking early today and have covered the 30 km distance till evening to Mangan," said one of them, exhausted from the long trek.

Sikkim Director General of Police Jasbeer Singh said information about several places in North Sikkim was still sketchy as there was little or no connectivity with roads blocked and communication lines snapped.

"We are getting a very sketchy picture about Chungthang, Lachun and Lachen. Though the casualty figure is 50 at present, it is likely to increase after we get access to these areas and find out the extent of damage," Singh said.

"The district collectors have been advised to reach these places by helicopters. After that, we expect some information from this terrain," he said.

Airdropping of food was being done in some places like Changu in East Sikkim, Lachen and Chungthang in North Sikkim, he said.

"However, we don't know how many we have been able to cater to," he said.

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Saibal Gupta In Mangan
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