Death Toll from Himalayan Quake Rises to 50

September 20, 2011

Rescue workers used shovels and their bare hands to pull bodies from the debris of collapsed buildings Monday, as the death toll from an earthquake that hit northeast India, Nepal and Tibet rose to 50.

At least 25 people died in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim after the 6.9 magnitude quake hit the region Sunday evening, police said.

Paramilitary soldiers had pulled out 18 bodies and had located seven others buried under mounds of concrete in Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital, said police Chief Jasbir Singh.

Another 11 people were killed the neighboring Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal. Seven people died in Nepal and China’s official Xinhua news agency reported seven deaths from Tibet.

Most of the deaths occurred when houses, already weakened from recent monsoon rains, collapsed due to the force of the quake, which was centered in Sikkim near India’s border with Nepal.

Heavy rains and landslides hampered rescue workers as they worked through the night to pull people from under the rubble, Singh said.

Much of the damage was not immediately known because the region is remote and sparsely populated.

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