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Death Toll In India Climbs Higher As Remote Mountains Are Finally Accessed
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Death Toll In India Climbs Higher As Remote Mountains Are Finally Accessed

Three strong earthquakes rattled much of India and Nepal in rapid succession on Sunday, with the original death toll only a fraction of the final count. Searches are continuing in the remote areas, made even more inaccessible by the recent weather there.

The first of the earthquakes was the strongest, measuring a 6.9 by the US Geological Society, however there is some serious discrepancy between that agency and the India Meteorology Society on the ratings of the other two. The US agency has those secondary quakes at 4.8 and 4. 6 while the Indian agency has them rated much higher with 5.7 and 5.3. All three of the quakes occurred within an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish.

The powerful quakes, coupled with landslides caused by the recent heavy rains, have caused a number of roads to be blocked which is also hampering further rescue efforts. Power and phone lines are down in much of the country which is also keep rescuers from communicating with communities in need. Some rescue groups are already being told to hold in place until some of these services are restored.

Original reports had put the death toll in India at six with the number in Nepal at three. Several were injured when the wall of the British embassy collapsed including an eight year old girl, her father and another man, all dying from their injuries in that instance.  A number of other buildings have also been damaged or destroyed but landslides and downed electric lines are making the search process dangerous and slow.

In Sikkim, near the border of China, over three hundred civilians have been rescued, including twenty two tourists.

After gaining access to some of the more remote areas of the mountain ranges, rescuers found more victims bringing the death toll to at least forty eight with even more injured. Mudslides have pushed back much of the rescuer’s efforts in those regions where it is feared that as many as 100,000 homes have been destroyed. Two major roads in Sikkim’s capital city, Gangtok have also been destroyed after their structure failed.

The Indian Army is sending search teams to look for people in areas that are known to be sparsely  populated while the air force will also search from above for any signs of additional survivors. There are concerns that some of the people who live some distance from their neighbors may be injured and unable to seek help because of their remote locations. Once all of those areas have been thoroughly searched, it is possible that the death toll could climb slightly higher. It is also unknown if there are structures that are still in danger of toppling or damaged beyond safe use in those areas.

In New Delhi, some buildings have been shaken but there has been no evidence of real serious damage or injuries at all.


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