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September 24, 2012

Sikkim - a year after an earthquake

     Gangtok: A year since the high-intensity quake devastated Sikkim, the situation is returning to normal. The residents paid their respects to those who lost their lives in the calamity. Over 100 people had died and nearly half the state was badly affected. Roads were damaged, ancient monasteries were destroyed and both the army and paramilitary forces stepped in for relief efforts. Thousands were left homeless and several people lost their near and dear ones. A year has passed, but the day is still fresh in the memories of those who were affected by the earthquake. Thousands of people gathered in the market square of Gangtok and offered prayers to the departed on the first anniversary of quake. Ironically, a small jolt hit Sikkim again, but no one was affected. Speaking to media, Santosh, one of the residents, said, “We have come here to pay respect and tribute to the victims of last year’s quake.” Life has now returned to normal in Sikkim . The students are back in schools and people are busy with their work. The tourism industry, the worst affected by the September 18 quake, has recovered too. Markets are bustling with customers and tour operators are doing good business with both national and international visitors coming to Sikkim to experience its beauty. Bhanu Pratap, President, Sikkim Hotel & Restaurant Association, said, “Soon after the earthquake, we lost the tourist business but during summers, we picked up the business. We have seen lots of changes now in tourist business, and we have improved a lot.” The authorities in Sikkim are working closely with different Disaster Management agencies to minimize losses if such catastrophes occur again. They recently organized a conference where people from different states participated and shared their experiences on the issue.
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