Toll in India reaches 72; over 300 injured

NEW DELHI: Two days after a severe 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal and parts of India, the death toll in India has risen to 72, with over 300 people seriously wounded.

Toll in India reaches 72; over 300 injured

Home Minister Rajnath Singh speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on April 23, 2015. PTI file photo

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 27

Two days after a severe 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal and parts of India, the death toll in India has risen to 72, with over 300 people seriously wounded.

Among those dead, 56 are in Bihar, 12 in UP, three in West Bengal and one in Rajasthan. As many as 2,500 Indians have so far been evacuated from Nepal.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh made these disclosure in the Lok Sabha moments after the House expressed condolences for the bereaved apart from unanimously resolving to donate a month’s salary each to the quake relief efforts both in India and Nepal. The agreement on donation came after Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu proposed that all MPs offer a month’s salary.

The Home Minister, meanwhile, informed the House that 10 NDRF teams were already in Nepal and had helped rescue 10 persons alive from the rubble. He informed the Lok Sabha that the Centre had approved grant of gratis (free) visas to foreigners trapped in Nepal who wish to come to India. “Gratis visas have been approved for travel by road and air on the instructions of the PM,” Singh said.

Six more NDRF teams are on the way to Kathmandu along with an unmanned aerial vehicle, 250 very high frequency wireless sets and 15 high frequency wireless sets to aid rescue operations, the government said, adding that an engineering taskforce, 22 tonnes of food materials, 50 tonnes of bottled mineral water, two tones of medical supplies, 40 tents and several blankets have also been sent.

Back in India, the Home Minister said the Prime Minister had approved a grant of Rs 6 lakh each for those killed in the quake (Rs 4 lakh each from NDRF Fund and Rs 2 lakh each from PM Relief Fund). He also placed on record his appreciation for Chief Ministers of UP, Bihar and Uttarakhand (states bordering Nepal) who helped rescue efforts by deploying state transport buses in evacuation operations.

“I had requested the CMs of UP, Bihar and Uttarakhand to send buses to rescue people by road as air evacuation was not possible in all cases. I place on record my gratitude for their help. We assure all those affected by the quake at home that the Government will spare no efforts in helping tem rebuild their lives in helping them reconstruct damaged houses,” said the Home Minister.

Importantly, Rajnath Singh today admitted in the House that on Saturday after the quake struck, the PM was the first to know of it and not he himself as the Home Minister.

“I have no qualms about admitting that PM had the information before I did and he acted with extreme alacrity. We were both at a function Saturday morning, but I did not know of the quake until after I got home and switched on the TV. Meantime, the PM had called me and informed me of the 3 pm meeting that day to discuss relief efforts and to express complete solidarity with Nepal,” Rajnath Singh told the House after leaders of most parties, while speaking in the House, lauded PM’s response in the matter.

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