Two killed as earthquake hits north

May 02, 2013 - 1:36:46 am

Patients outside a hospital after being evacuated following tremors in the eastern Kashmiri town of Badarwah, yesterday. 

NEW DELHI: An earthquake that shook parts of north India yesterday left at least two people dead and injured nearly 70 others, including 43 students, a report said.

The moderate-intensity quake measured 5.8 on the Richter scale and struck along the border of the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, a government official who declined to be named, said. Two people died in landslides triggered by the quake that was followed by a string of aftershocks, the Press Trust of India reported.

Another 69 people were injured including 32 students as schools and other buildings were damaged in the twin districts of Kishtwar and Doda in the Jammu region of Kashmir, the news agency said, quoting officials.

The quake, which sent people across the region rushing into the streets in panic, was also felt in Punjab and Haryana, but there were no reports of any casualties or damage from those two states.

The epicentre was located some 450 kilometres north of New Delhi, according to an official at the Indian Meteorological Department.

The US Geological Survey gave the magnitude of the quake in eastern Kashmir as 5.7. Minor tremors were felt in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

A powerful earthquake that hit Iran last month also shook buildings in New Delhi, prompting frightened office workers to run outdoors.

The capital regularly experiences minor tremors, usually from distant earthquakes in remote areas of the Himalayas.

“The quake happened at 12.27pm,” R S Dattatreya, director, Department of Seismology, India Meteorological Department (IMD), said.

“It is a moderate tremor in Delhi and other northern regions. We ask the public not to panic,” Dattatreya said.

“The quake was 10 kilometres beneath the earth’s surface ... the possibility of aftershocks is very minimal for such a low intensity quake,” added L S Rathore, the IMD’s director general (Meteorology).

In Jammu, an official of the Met department said: “The maximum impact of the quake was felt in Doda and Kishtwar districts.”

According to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police, Doda-Kishtwar Range, Ashkoor Wani, one person was killed when a boulder hit him near Kishtwar. 

“Gosain Ram, who was tending goats, died when a boulder that had slipped down from a mountain hit him,” said Wani.

Twenty-nine people, including 23 schoolchildren, were injured when three school buildings collapsed in Bhaderwah town of Doda district. Another 24 people, including 20 schoolchildren, were injured when three school buildings collapsed in Gandoh area of Doda district, officials said.

The tremors, felt across large parts of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Punjab, lasted six to seven seconds. The temblor caused panic in some places, particularly in hilly areas, some of which reported cracks in homes and buildings. Reports of cracks in office and residential buildings and disruption of communication systems came in from Bhaderwah, Doda and Kishtwar towns of Jammu region. Details of damage caused were not immediately available.

“We have reports of many buildings having developed big cracks while some mud houses in Chatroo, Thathri, Bhaderwah areas have collapsed,” an official in Jammu said.

The administration was gathering information, “but so far there is no report of loss of life”, he added. 

In the summer capital Srinagar and other parts of the Valley, people rushed out of their homes and work-places in panic when the tremor occurred.

“I witnessed the chair rocking as the earthquake occurred. It took me a few seconds to realise what was happening. Everybody started running out of the building in panic,” said Sajad Ahmad, a local businessman in Srinagar.

Kashmir is situated in an earthquake-prone region where huge devastation has been caused by earthquakes in the past.

On October 8, 2005, more than 40,000 people were killed in a massive quake that struck both parts of divided Kashmir. The quake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale.

In Himachal Pradesh, Sandeep Kadam, the deputy commissioner of Chamba, told IANS over phone that there were reports of cracks in some houses in Pangi and Tissa areas of the district.

Chamba is one of remotest places in the state where most of the houses in the interiors are made of mud. 

North India had felt two mild tremors in April alone. On April 24, a series of tremors were felt when an earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre in the Hindu Kush ranges off Afghanistan, occurred.