18 people lost their lives as a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Sikkim on Sunday evening. The death toll is at 18 which includes 7 in Sikkim, 4 in West Bengal 2 in Bihar and 5 in Nepal.

The armed forces have deployed teams for relief and rescue activity, the centre is also sending emergency teams in. But heavy rains, intermittent power cut, and loss of mobile phone connectivity did hamper rescue operations in the initial hours.

At 6.10 pm on Sunday evening, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Sikkim. Mangan, 54 km from Gangtok, was the epicentre of that quake that left a trail of death and massive damages in its wake. It was not just Sikkim that was shaken, the tremors were felt in Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, North East and Nepal.

The quake has cut off Sikkim. Mobile connectivity has been hit. The national highway is closed after heavy rains followed by landslides and there are reports of people being trapped. The Army has already reached out to the affected.

The Center has rushed in teams of the National Disaster Response Force. They have been flown in from Delhi and Kolkata till Bagdora from where they proceed by road. But the bad weather and landslides are posing huge challenges.

The quake has given a rude jolt to Sikkim and many parts of northern and eastern India. Several homes and properties have been damaged but a clearer picture of the extent of damages is yet to come out.

Rescue operations underway

Rescue operations began within hours of the quake striking. Army columns in small teams have been deployed across Sikkim to provide humanitarian assistance. These columns comprise medical teams with first aid kits as well as engineers. 400 personnel from the National Disaster Relief Force have reached Bagdogra from where they will move by road.

30 columns from the 33 Cors in Siliguri are also engaged in rescue activity. Bihar is sending 160 personnel in. The BSF rescue team and the dog squad are there too. The DGP of Sikkim who was in Delhi when the disaster occurred will set out for Gangtok on Monday.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel rescued 200 civilians including 22 tourists, they've taken refuge at the Pegong camp. An IAF team carrying supplies is on its way.

Bihar, Gujarat offer assistance

States like Bihar and Bengal are also sending rescue teams to Sikkim. Others too have offered assistance.

"When the earthquake happened I too felt the termor. Our departments are on the job, we are gathering information," said Bihar Chief Minis Nitish Kumar.

"On behalf of the people of Gujarat I convey my condolences. Such a situation demands cooperation from all. The Gujarat government is ready to extend support to all those who have been affected," said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Source: IBN Live