At least 53 people were confirmed dead Monday after an earthquake measuring 6.9 magnitude rocked the Himalayan regions of northeastern India, Nepal and Tibet, collapsing buildings and causing numerous deadly landslides in the process.
The quake, which struck Sunday night in the mountainous region near the town of Mangan in India’s Sikkim state, reportedly caused tremors as far away as Bangladesh and the Indian cities of Kolkata and New Delhi.
Indian authorities say that at least two strong aftershocks (magnitudes 6.1 and 5.3) followed, further rattling residents.
Following the temblor, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called an emergency meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority to coordinate a response plan. In addition to the NDMA efforts, which included compensation of $4,000 for families of those killed and $2,000 for those seriously wounded, the Indian army sent over 2,500 troops and multiple planes into Gangtok and other areas to help with relief efforts.
Local officials said they, too, were mobilizing rescue teams as rapidly as they could.
“When the earthquake happened, I, too, felt the tremor. Our departments are on the job, we are gathering information,” Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar state, told reporters.
Prior to the recent quake, the Himalayan region has been hit by major earthquakes in the past, including in 1950 and 1897.