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13 killed, over 100 hurt as 6.8 quake jolts Sikkim, Nepal, North & East India

 

At least 13 people were killed and more than 100 were injured as a powerful earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, jolted the Sikkim-Nepal border region this evening and was felt in Delhi and across most of North, East and North-East India.

A UNI report said at least three people were killed in Sikkim, two in Bihar, two in West Bengal and six in Nepal..

The tremors, which lasted for several seconds, were felt, among other places, in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, parts of West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. They were also felt in Bangladesh.

There were also reports of damage to buildings in capital Sikkim and other districts of Sikkim as well as in parts of West Bengal and Bihar.

A UNI report from Kokata said at least six people were injured in Siliguri when a wall collapsed on Agrasen Road. The injured were rushed to a hospital where their condition was stated to be serious.

Power supply in the affected areas was disrupted and communication was affected after the tremors damaged mobile telephone towers.

Sikkim Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso said the quake claimed one life at Singtham in East Sikkim district, while another died just outside Sigtham.

The maximum damage was reported from Mangan in northern Sikkim, which is located close to the epicentre.

He said all the emergency units had been alerted and the army was on stand by to help the civilian authorities in coping with the aftermath of the quake.

He said no reports of major damage had been received from the other districts so far, but pointed out communication lines had been disrupted.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on the telephone and later directed Union Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth to ensure that all possible assistance was provided to the state governments by the Centre.

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Mr Seth told television channels that two Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft would leave shortly for Bagdogra in West Bengal with teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and equipment. Another IAF plane would fly empty from Agra to Kolkata and then transport NDRF personnel from there to Bagdogra, he said.

Mr Seth the army had also been requested to render all possible assistance. He said mobile telephone towers had been affected by the quake and the authorities had to depend on landlines for communication. The disruption in power supply had also added to the difficulties, he said.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quak had its epicentre at latitude 22.7 degrees North and longitude 88.2 degrees East on the Sikkim-Nepal border region.

The tremors occurred at 18.11.47 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, the IMD said in its preliminary report.

The United States Geological Survey said the epicentre of the quake was at a place 69 km north-west of Gangtok and 120 km north-north-west of Siliguri in West Bengal.

Apart from Delhi, the tremors were felt in other towns of the National Capital Region (NCR), Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam and other north-eastern states as well as in the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bhutan, the reports said. Tremors were also felt in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Many people in Delhi and other places said they felt their buildings shake and chairs they were sitting on sway for quite a few seconds. Others said they experienced two jerks, separated by a few seconds and each lasting several seconds. Many of them rushed out of their buildings, especially high-rises, in panic.

Reports said cracks had appeared in buildings in Gangtok and other towns in the affected areas.

Meanwhile, the IMD said there were two aftershocks, one measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale about 10 minutes later and another one of 5.3 magnitude another 21 minutes later.

Reports said the quake had triggered landslides in some areas, leading to blocking of roads.Some houses had collapsed in parts of Bihar, they said.

NNN

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