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Teachers, students lend succour in quake-hit Sikkim

Wednesday September 21, 2011 05:35:57 PM, IANS

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Gangtok: Teachers are doubling up as counsellors, students are volunteering for relief work and those not affected are coming to the aid of those in distress even as normalcy is a long way off in north Sikkim, the region worst affected by the 6.8 magnitude earthquake in India Sunday.

In Sikkim University, classes have been resumed but students are still grappling with the aftermath of the temblor.

"Our students are being counselled by the teachers to help them deal with the shock of the quake. A lot of students in our university are from outside Sikkim and this is the first time they have experienced such a thing and that too such a massive one, so they are naturally shocked," Mahendra P. Lama, vice chancellor of Sikkim University, told IANS.

"Even I spoke to the students. There were some rumours doing rounds that 20 hours after the earthquake, there will be another I told them that if we could predict things like these, then there would be no disaster ever!"

One of the university's students suffered a head injury as he was trying to escape from the hostel when the quake happened.

A lot of outstation students who are studying in Sikkim have, nevertheless, left for home after the quake killed at least 61 people in the state alone.

According to Lama, normalcy has more or less started creeping back to the capital town of Gangtok.

"Gangtok was not as badly affected as Mangan, the epicentre of the earthquake or the rest of north Sikkim, and normalcy is returning. Communication with other places and states has been restored as have telecommunication and electricity," he said.

"But communication with Mangan is still snapped and rescue efforts by the army and others is on," he added.

Recounting the day of the earthquake, Lama said he had left Gangtok for Delhi just two hours before the disaster.

"There was something unnatural. It was raining for 30 hours non-stop before the earthquake in Darjeeling and Sikkim. On an average, these two places get about 388 mm of rainfall in September, but this time they received 236 mm rainfall, or 61 percent of the total rain, in just five days," said Lama, who returned soon after the quake.

"In fact, when I was in the airport on my way to Delhi, I met MP Jaswant Singh and told him that there is something wrong with the weather...little did we know that such a big disaster was awaiting us," Lama, who returned a day after, further said.

Local NGOs are mobilising volunteers to help victims of the quake and also the rescue workers, he added.





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