Quake Hits Himalayas

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake rocked the Himalayas Sunday evening, causing widespread damage in parts of India, Nepal, and Tibet.

More than 60 people have been reported dead, at least 35 of them from the Indian state of Sikkim, which was where the epicenter of the powerful quake was recorded. Rescue workers are struggling to reach victims as many roads have been blocked by landslides. An official from the Indo-Tibetan Border police said more than 400 people have been rescued since late Sunday. Indo-Tibetan Border police spokesman Deepak Pandey said the situation is still precarious in the affected areas due to landslides. “The earthquake has loosened the hill-faces, and when it rains, it causes landslides. So the situation is still very dangerous,” Pandey said.

While the death toll is expected to rise, massive casualty is not feared as the earthquake-hit area is one of the least populated in the region. However, a bigger challenge for rescuers is protecting survivors, as many of those displaced are facing hunger and the harsh, cold weather in the region, where temperatures can drop below 8 degree Celsius. “Even if casualties are low, there is likely to be a need for humanitarian assistance for affected civilians whose homes have been destroyed and who need food and shelter,” a U.N. disaster management official said, according to Reuters.