The death toll from this week's earthquake centered in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim has climbed to 112 people, according to a local Indian news channel. But rescuers have yet to reach several isolated villages, where more deaths may be counted.
According to the Indian Express, a portion of a tunnel being built in connection with a power plant project in the region has collapsed, trapping an unknown number of workers, in an area that remains cut off from rescue.
An aerial survey of the region also found a bus reported to have been carrying 22 passengers hanging from a cliff, the paper said.
“It looks like a heavily bombarded area with bodies underneath mountains of boulders,” said a worker from the power plant project who trekked eight hours out of the valley to reach safety.
Similarly, the Times of India reported that an aerial survey conducted Wednesday observed five villages that appeared to be completely flattened. Observers could not see any signs of life among the destroyed structures, the paper said.
The official toll put out by the Sikkim government was 69, the paper said. But that total does not take into account the possible casualty figures that might emerge from the five devastated villages -- Lingzya, Sakyong, Tentong, Day and Tholong.
Counting deaths in neighbouring Bhutan, Bihar, Nepal, West Bengal and Jharkhand, the toll now stands at about 140, the Times of India said.