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17 killed by landslide after quake

Soldiers in north-eastern India have cleared a path to a hydroelectric project where 17 people were confirmed killed by landslides in a powerful Himalayan earthquake, bringing the overall toll in the disaster to 99.

The 6.9 magnitude quake on Sunday claimed lives in north-eastern India, Tibet and Nepal. Rescue efforts have been hampered by heavy rain and mudslides that blocked the roads leading to villages in the remote, mountainous region.

Several of those slides hit the area around the hydroelectric plant being built along the Teesta, a glacier-fed river in the Himalayas in the northern part of the Indian state of Sikkim.

Teesta Urja Co, which is building the plant, said 10 workers were killed when their vehicles were buried during the quake by boulders dislodged from a hillside. Another seven were killed in a separate landslide.

Only one worker was still missing, the statement said. Officials had earlier said that as many as 40 workers were unaccounted for.

The statement said the company, with help from the army and paramilitary troops in the area, had begun transporting 10 injured workers to nearby hospitals. Mud and rocks blocking the roads to the plant had hampered rescue efforts.

The deaths from the quake were spread across a wide swath of the Himalayan region, with officials reporting 68 dead in the worst-hit state of Sikkim, 12 in West Bengal, six in Bihar, six in the neighbouring Nepal and another seven in the Chinese region of Tibet. The toll was expected to rise as rescue workers gained access to remote villages in the sparsely populated region.

Sikkim's chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling told reporters that according to initial estimates the earthquake had caused losses and damage worth £14 billion.

The region has been hit by major earthquakes in the past, including in 1950 and 1897.


From Belfast Telegraph