Sikkim Earthquake (2011)

Sikkim Earthquake (2011)

Sikkim Earthquake (2011)

When everyone was in peace enjoying their Sunday eve with some tea and snacks, an earthquake triggered named as Sikkim Earthquake or the Himalayan Earthquake with the epicenter as Kanchenjunga Conservation Area near the border of Nepal and Sikkim (a state of India) of a magnitude of 6.9 on 18th September, 2011 at around 18:10 IST. The shocks of this earthquake were felt on North eastern parts of India, southern Tibet, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

On an average about 110 people were killed of which most deaths were from Sikkim state of India, in East Sikkim districts and Singtam. 11 people were reported to be dead from Nepal when the wall of British Embassy in Katmandu got collapsed. Other than this, several buildings and houses were collapsed in Gangtok city. Not only in Sikkim and Nepal various monuments and buildings were destructed in Bhutan, Bangladesh and Tibet and another 7 were declared dead from these countries.

This earthquake hit the Himalayan region just after a few days of an earthquake of 4.2 magnitudes in Sonipat District of Haryana that felt few shocks in Delhi as well. And exactly after a yaer, on 18th September, 2012 cam another earthquake of 4.1 magnitudes that hit Sikkim sparking a few shocks among people reminding them of the original earthquake of 2011. A few considered it as an anniversary of last year’s Himalayan earthquake.

The magnitude 6.9 earthquake occurred inland at 18:10 IST on 18 September 2011, about 68 km northwest of Gangtok, Sikkim at a shallow depth of 19.7 km. At its location, the continental Indian and Eurasian Plates converge with one another along a tectonic boundary beneath the mountainous region of northeast India near the Nepal border. Although earthquakes in this region are usually interpolate in nature, preliminary data suggests the Sikkim earthquake was triggered by shallow strike-slip faulting from an interpolate source within the over-riding Eurasian Plate. Initial analyses also indicate a complex origin, with the perceived tremor likely being a result of two separate events occurring close together in time at similar focal depth.

The earthquake struck near a mountainous, albeit very populous region near the Sikkim–Nepal border; most of the structures were reported to be highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking. Upon impact, tens of thousands of residents evacuated their homes, and many areas suffered from communication and power outages. The strong shaking caused significant building collapse and mudslides; at least 111 people were confirmed killed by the effects of the earthquake, and hundreds of others sustained injuries. As the earthquake occurred in the monsoon season, heavy rain and landslides rendered rescue work more difficult.

Sikkim Earthquake (2011)

India: In India, property damage is estimated to be around ₹1,000 billion (US$16 billion) with the actual report yet to come. Northern India suffered the most from the earthquake, with at least 75 people killed. 60 people were reportedly killed in Sikkim alone. At least 7 people have died in Bihar, while 6 deaths have been reported from West Bengal. Power supply was disrupted in areas near Sikkim, including Kalimpong of Darjeeling district, and adjoining Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts; the outages were in part blamed on an affected electric substation in Siliguri. Water supply was interrupted in Sikkim. National Highway 31, the major highway linking Sikkim to the rest of India, was damaged. Ten of the dead were workers at a hydroelectric project on the Teesta River.

Nepal: In the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu, damage from the earthquake was comparatively limited. Three people were killed when a wall at the British Embassy collapsed, and many others suffered injuries. The shaking effects were more severe in eastern Nepal, which is closer to the epicenter. There, hundreds of homes sustained significant damage, and due to saturated soil from preceding heavy rains widespread mudslides impacted the region. Sunsari experienced power and telephone communication outages. Two people were killed in the eastern city of Dharan. Overall, in Nepal 6 people died due to the earthquake.

Bhutan: There were no reports of casualties in Bhutan, although cracks on walls and ceilings of houses were reported in Wangthangkha village, Lango and the town area in Paro. There were also reports of a landslide right after crossing the Isuna Bridge from Paro towards Thimphu, and falling boulders after crossing Chundzom Bridge. Citizens were asked to avoid traveling on the Paro-Thimphu highway. Telecommunications networks were disrupted, with cellular networks unavailable after the quake. Prime Minister of Bhutan Jigmi Thinley updated in his status as “Phone lines remains clogged reflecting our caring and close knit society. No damage reported from East Bhutan. Four road blocks caused by falling debris are reported on the Chukha – Phuntsholing road. Two homes in Haa report damage with 3–4 people having suffered minor injury. Thimphu Dzong has sustained some cracks in the Utse and one of the four corner towers. Occupants have been moved out to safer parts. Please remain calm and alert.

Early rescue operations included four teams of National Disaster Response Force been rushed to Sikkim and five more teams were being sent from Kolkata. However, South and West Sikkim remained inaccessible delaying rescue operations owing to landslides caused by rainfall. A group of 14 tourists were rescued by the army from north Sikkim. The army had deployed 72 columns including infantry troops, combat engineers, four Dhruv and five Cheetah helicopters. Rain and landslides had hampered the rescue efforts of workers searching for survivors.

Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, on 19 September, announced ₹200,000 (US$3,100) as ex-gratia to a family member of those killed in the earthquake and ₹100,000 (US$1,600) for seriously injured. ₹50,000 (US$780) for those grievously injured and ₹25,000 (US$390) for those with minor injuries was announced by Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling.

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