Also airlifted were 16 people injured in the quake, army sources said. The tourists, some of whom were wounded, were airlifted from Ringzim helipad here.
Paljor Lachungpa, who is coordinating the evacuation, said Lachen was still cut off and more tourists could be airlifted from Chungthang later in the day. The tourists were a state of shock.
Bishnupriya Dutta, a housewife from Bhubaneswar touring Sikkim with eight family members, including two children, was barely able to narrate the harrowing experience.
She was on way to Lachung from Lachen when the quake struck. "The car was shaking violently and the driver said there was a earthquake ... We were all terribly scared." Dutta, who along with her family was staying at an army camp at Bichhu for the past three nights, said, "On way here today I saw a large number of houses damaged and the roads had caved in ... I thanked God".
Asked whether she would return to Sikkim in future, her answer was "Never." "I cannot forget all my life the fear and the pitch darkness of that night when the quake struck and we moved to Bichhu for shelter in the army camp," she said.