HC Deb 10 April 1905 vol 144 cc1015-7
MR. DISRAELI (Cheshire, Altrincham)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if he can state the number of casualties caused by the recent earthquakes and landslides in India, and also what steps the Government proposes to take to relieve the suffering caused by these disasters.


I beg also to ask the Secretary of State for India what official information he has received up to date regarding the recent earthquake in India; and if he can state particulars regarding the loss of life and property, giving the names of those who have died or been seriously injured.


The names of those who, up to this morning, are reported by the Government of India to have been killed or injured have been communicated to the Press, but it is feared that the list is still incomplete. The mortality among natives is not yet known, but the following casualties among Ghurkha regiments at Dharmsala have been reported:— Killed, 140 (including women, children, and followers); injured 186; missing, 71. I have received the following particulars from the Government of India dated the 9th last:—"In Lahore, twenty-five natives killed and considerable damage done to private and public property. In Amritsar, Golden Temple damaged and some lives lost. At Tarn Taran, nine killed and seven severely injured. At Dalhousie, damage to property but no deaths. Palampur in Kangra District reported totally destroyed, and many hundred lives lost. Very serious damage also reported in Kangra and Jowala Mukhi and other villages in Kangra Valley. Every building, without exception, in Kangra and Bhawan in ruins, including Sessions House and Mission buildings. The Kangra Treasury has collapsed and treasure boxes lying under debris. Of police, only Deputy-Inspector of Police, one sergeant, and one constable uninjured, and three other constables alive, but injured. Of Tahsil Establishment, only office kanungo and two chaprassies, of whom one is uninjured, and alive. Total number estimated to be alive is 500. Many people still alive are imprisoned in ruined houses. Similar state of affairs in most other villages in neighbourhood. At Dharmsala all houses and buildings throughout the entire station, including cantonment and bazaars, have been totally destroyed with enormous loss of life. Relief party with doctors, medicine, food, and tents sent from Lahore on 5th April. A double company of 34th Pioneers also left Mian Mir on 7th April to render assistance at Dharmsala, Palampur, Kangra, and other places in Kangra Valley. Two more companies are being sent, and two or three Pioneer Companies are being sent from Umballa. Military authorities have been asked to hold other forces in readiness to send if necessary. An Assistant District Superintendent of police with 200 constables are being sent to protect property and to take place of constables killed. No further information at present." This morning the Viceroy telegraphs as follows:—"Latest information from Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab does not add to details already wired. It is clear that towns of Dharmsala, Kangra, and Palampur are virtually destroyed, that loss of life has been very great, and that full measure of catastrophe, owing to difficulty of communication, cannot be ascertained for some time. I have only desisted from proceeding at once to scene of disaster at urgent request of Lieutenant-Governor, who will go there himself." In reply to a question from me as to opening a relief list the Viceroy adds, "I am starting Indian subscription list for sufferers whose losses it will be impossible to meet from other sources, and in a day or two, when fuller information has reached me, I hope to be able to tell you whether we should also appeal to wider circle. I think that this may be necessary. Commissioner further reports that at Dharmsala, owing to splendid work of Ghurkhas and others, nearly all bodies have already been exhumed. Special party been despatched to visit all tea estates round Palampur and similar parties in other directions. Police report from Kulu shows some loss of life there, but no European casualties reported. In Kangra nearly all Government native clerks have perished."