Quake kills four, injures over 100 in north Bengal

September 19th, 2011 - 1:38 am ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata/Siliguri, Sep 19 (IANS) Four people were killed, over 100 injured and power supply disrupted in parts of northern West Bengal as a powerful quake, epicentred in adjoining Sikkim, rocked the region Sunday evening.

Many buildings developed cracks and the neighbouring himalayan state was cut off from north Bengal by landslides.

North Bengal Affairs Minister Gautam Deb said the deaths were reported from Siliguri in Darjeeling and Malbazar in Jalpaiguri district. Police reported two other deaths in Kalimpong and Kurseong hill subdivisions of Darjeeling.

“One person died in Siliguri. Another died in Jalpaiguri district,” Deb told IANS over phone.

The quake triggered landslides in Kalimpong and Kurseong hill sub-divisions while several patients in a nursing home in Siliguri sub-division of Darjeeling district were injured, Deb said.

The National Highway 31 A, considered the lifeline of Sikkim, was damaged by landslides, cutting off the tiny state’s road link with the outside world.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said power supply was disrupted in areas near Sikkim like Kalimpong of Darjeeling district, and adjoining Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts.

Doctors in Siliguri hospital said around 40 people have been admitted while 30 others were discharged after first aid.

At least thirty other persons were treated in different nursing homes and hospitals of the district, the doctors said.

Six persons were injured when the wall of a school gave way in the city, said Additional Superintendent (Siliguri) Amit P. Javalgi. “Many houses have collapsed. We have ordered closure of shops”.

Siliguri Mayor Gangotri Dutta said rescue teams have been formed in the town which experienced two after-shocks after the major quake at 6.11 p.m.

The entire town plunged into darkness, but power supply was restored around 9 p.m.

“One sub-station had been affected in Siliguri, disrupting power supply. Most of the areas of north Bengal, including Darjeeling district, have been lashed by overnight rains. After the quake, situation has deteriorated with landslides in Kalimpong and Kurseong,” Deb said.

“The impact was more in Cooch Behar district. Jalpaiguri district has also been hit,” he said shortly after an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale with its epicentre near the Sikkim-Nepal border hit the state Sunday evening,

“The district magistrate of Darjeeling is already on the field assessing the situation,” Banerjee said.

The chief minister said she could not contact officials of Jalpaiguri district.

“Some houses developed cracks in the hills. We are constantly monitoring the situation. If anybody is trapped, then we should all work together to rescue such people. We will help each other,” she said.

The chief minister said an emergency helpline (03322145486) has been started at the director general of police’s control room at the state secretariat, Writers’ Buildings, and another in the city police headquarters in Kolkata.

“But there is nothing to panic. The administration is on high alert,” she said.

Weather officials warned of more landslides in the Darjeeling hills following heavy rains.

“Due to heavy rainfall in Darjeeling hills, there are chances of landslides following the earthquake. There may also be aftershocks,” said G.C. Debnath, director of Regional Meteorological Centre, Kolkata.

Control rooms have been opened in all the districts. Panic gripped Kolkata, where Durga Puja shopping was at its peak.

Shopping malls were evacuated, people rushed to the streets, and the superstitious people blew conches to ward off evil spirit.

“It was very frightful. I never had such an experience. There was an announcement on the public address system to evacuate the floor. I and my sons managed to come out fast. But there was lot of commotion at the exit gate,” said a man in his late 30s who had come to a shopping mall with his two sons.

A crack developed in the police housing complex at Ultadanga in north Kolkata.

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