Asia Pacific: Himalayan Earthquake - Information Bulletin n° 1

This bulletin is being issued for information only and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is not seeking funding or other assistance from donors for this operation. The Indian Red Cross Society and Nepal Red Cross Society will, however, accept direct assistance to provide support to the affected population.

The situation

An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck the Himalaya region bordering north India and Nepal on 18 September 2011 at 6:10 pm Indian time, with the epicentre located 64km north-west of Gangtok, capital of Sikkim, 120km from Shiliguri in the Indian state of West Bengal, 133km from Namche Bazar in Nepal, and 40km from Yadong county in Tibet, China. Aftershocks measuring 6.1 and 5.3 on the Richter scale were also felt around Sikkim 20 minutes after the earthquake. The earthquake caused major damages in the region. As of 20 September, a total of 99 deaths have been reported, with a breakdown as follows:

Country: Death toll

India: 83
Nepal: 8
China: 7
Bhutan: 1
Total: 99

The remoteness of the affected regions, combined with the effects of heavy rainfall and landslides, has posed many challenges in carrying out field assessments to gauge the humanitarian needs. Detailed Information bulletin Himalayan Earthquake information on the damage to infrastructure, number of people injured, displaced and affected will be made clearer as assessment are completed in these areas.

India

The death toll of the earthquake in India has reached 83, leaving 200 people injured. Army personnel have battled torrential rain, mist and landslides that have cut off affected areas and stalled relief and rescue work. Nine helicopters were mobilised and 10 medical units were airlifted to Chung-thang in North Sikkim. The biggest challenge now is to get improved access to supply food to needy people. The road beyond Mangan is seriously damaged and it will take some time to restore.

As the road links open up, the enormity of the damage will emerge. Besides the loss to human lives, over 15,000 houses were razed to the ground and more than 100,000 were partially damaged.

Nepal

Current reports from Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) district chapters reveal that there are eight dead and 89 injured and over 12,000 people affected across 17 districts. Structural damage to nearly 2,000 houses have left over 1,213 families displaced (more than 7,278 people), who are frightened to return to their damaged homes. It is expected that the true scale of damage and numbers of displaced will increase in the coming days as more isolated areas are reached. Exacerbating the situation has been monsoonal rains and some reports of landslides in the region which are affecting access.

The Government of Nepal's National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) has been activated and the District Disaster Relief Committees (DDRC) are convening meetings in affected district headquarters to ensure effective and coordinated response activities. The NRCS district chapters are represented in the DDRCs and will feed back information they have gathered as well as identify areas where there may be gaps in assistance needed.

China

The earthquake affected 13 counties in Shigatse city of Tibet, China. Seven people were killed and 37 were injured. A total of 1,000 houses are reported to have collapsed during the earthquake. The Chinese government has activated the level-four contingency plan to respond to this earthquake. Relief materials were distributed to disaster affected areas and a government working group was sent to assess the situation and carry out relief activities.

Bhutan

According to a report from the Bhutan Department of Disaster Management, the earthquake has caused one death, injured 16, and damaged about 4,000 houses. Further assessment is underway especially in remote and scattered villages. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) South Asia regional office is in close contact with the Department of Disaster Management and will continue to monitor outstanding needs of the affected population.