The death toll of the devastating earthquake that struck India, Nepal and Tibet has risen above 50.
Geologists have confirmed Sunday's magnitude 6.9 earthquake was caused by the collision of a tectonic plate in India with the Eurasian plate in India's northeastern Sikkim state near the Nepal border. The earthquake also caused 16 landslides across a 6-mile stretch of road. Meanwhile, images from the area’s media have shown footage of buckled roads and damaged buildings.
Some sources have reported at least 42 people dead in India, with 12 fatalities in Nepal and Tibet; local sources in India have reported the death toll is as high as 71. Border police have reported saving more than 20 tourists. Lawmaker P.M. Rai of Sikkim stated that at least 150 people have been hospitalized in what is the worst earthquake to hit the region since 1934. As of Monday, an estimated 2,000 people were in emergency camps.
Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh told journalists the death toll was expected to climb, as many people were still trapped under debris. So far, most casualties were reported from the North District and along the Teesta River.
"The first hour is the golden hour to save lives,” said Angeli Qwantra, disaster management expert, speaking to the network CNN/IBN. "Those under debris are not being rescued. This means there will be more infection, amputation of limbs, kidney failure. The death toll will rise."
An estimated of 70 percent of houses and buildings were damaged in the disaster, officials said. More than 5,000 army troops were assigned to assist in the earthquake recovery movement.
On Monday, power lines, some mobile networks and landlines were restored in Sikkim. The main highway connecting Gangtok and Siliguri was also restored by the afternoon. However, Sikkim Governor B.P. Singh said inclement weather continues to hamper rescue operations.