Soldiers reach last of India's quake-hit villages

AP News
Posted: Sep 23, 2011 9:27 AM
Soldiers reach last of India's quake-hit villages

Soldiers in India's northeast have reached the last villages cut off by landslides from a powerful earthquake that shook the Himalayan region last weekend and killed more than 100 people, an army officer said Friday.

The first soldiers were airlifted into the nine villages on Thursday carrying food and medicine for about 1,000 residents stranded after last Sunday's magnitude-6.9 earthquake, which also struck parts of Tibet and Nepal, Maj. Gen. S.L. Narasimhan said.

He said more soldiers were able to make their way into the villages by ground after hiking along mountainous paths.

Rescuers found two bodies Friday as they cleared debris in Mangan, near the quake's epicenter, said K.S. Topjay, a state government spokesman. The overall death toll stood at 108 __ 95 in India, six in Nepal and seven in Tibet.

Rescue efforts following the quake were hampered by heavy rains that kept helicopters grounded. Mudslides triggered by the disaster blocked roads leading into remote, mountainous villages.

"It will take some time to clear the damaged roads," Narasimhan said.

The helicopters were able to evacuate some injured people to hospitals for treatment, he said.

Meanwhile, a magnitude-3.9 aftershock Thursday night caused panic in Sikkim state, one of the hardest hit, with thousands of people rushing out of their homes, said Topjay.

There were no reports of damage from the aftershock, he said.


Associated Press writer Wasbir Hussain in Gauhati, India, contributed to this report.