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Quake rescue teams scour Bhutan

22 September 09 07:59 GMT

Rescue teams are scouring eastern Bhutan after at least 11 people were killed by an earthquake which struck the Himalayan region.

Thousands of people spent the night in the open after the quake damaged monasteries and destroyed homes.

The 6.1 magnitude quake was also felt in northern India and Bangladesh.

The epicentre was inside Bhutan's border with India, 180km (115 miles) east of the capital, Thimphu, the US Geological Survey said.

"Rescue teams are working overtime to assess the damage and look for people trapped or injured," Ugyen Tenzing from Bhutan's disaster management department told the AFP news agency.

He said rescuers were searching the rubble for survivors.

But landslides and boulders have blocked roads to remote, hilly regions in the east of the country, which was worst affected.

At least seven people died after buildings collapsed in the eastern districts of Mongar and Trashigang, close to the epicentre of the quake.

The quake "made the surrounding hills look like they were throwing up dust," Sangay Tenzin, who was driving along the Trashigang-Riju road, told Bhutan's Kuensel newspaper.

"The road was suddenly filled with boulders and mud," he said.

Three Indians died in Samdrup Jongkhar district, close to the Indian border, after the road they were working on collapsed.

More than 200 Buddhist monks and 100 local officials were forced to flee an ancient monastery - that also serves as a government office - in Trashigang.

Residents in Guwahati in the Indian state of Assam reported cracks appearing in several buildings, but no serious damage.

The US Geological Survey initially reported the quake's magnitude as 6.3 but later revised it down to 6.1.

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