Casualties and Damages in Himalayas after Earthquake
September 20, 2011—The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is in contact with partners in India, who are assessing casualties and damages caused by Sunday’s 6.9-magnitude earthquake, which also affected neighbor countries Nepal, Bhutan, and the Tibetan region of China.
According to news reports compiled by the ACT Alliance’s India Forum, at least 130 people have died in the disaster, which was centered in the Indian state of Sikkim, located, like the neighboring countries, high in the Himalayas. It is a remote area, with no airport or railroad stations.
Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), an UMCOR partner headquartered in New Dehli, India, reported that the situation in Sikkim since the earthquake is “grim.” Mudslides, broken and blocked roads, rain, and fog have all conspired to hinder relief efforts.
The Inter Agency Group from Assam, including a field officer from CASA, dispatched an assessment team to Sikkim on Tuesday afternoon to investigate needs of the survivors there.
However, many areas remain cut off and, with the poor weather and difficult terrain, it may take the team some time to get close to the epicenter of the quake, where the heaviest damages and casualties are expected.
UMCOR’s International Disaster Response executive, Melissa Crutchfield, said she was in touch with CASA, assuring the organization that UMCOR stands ready to help.
She also has been in touch with General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) colleagues who reported that GBGM missionaries in the affected region are all safe. There are two GBGM missionaries in Nepal.
So far, the Indian news reports indicate that 1,300 homes are known to have been destroyed and that more than 100,000 homes were partially damaged in tremors and their aftermath. Some 10,000 people have been left homeless. All state highways in the area have been damaged and water and power supplies disrupted.
Immediate needs the ACT Alliance’s India Forum identified include shelter, food, clothing, blankets, medical aid, water and sanitation. More long-term needs are also anticipated.
Please keep the people of India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet in your prayers. Your support for International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450, helps UMCOR respond to emergencies around the world.