A high-intensity earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale epicentred in Nepal sent strong tremors through several eastern and northern parts of India today, leaving 17 dead, including 16 in Bihar, and causing panic.
Bihar once again bore the brunt of the temblor that occurred less than three weeks after the monster quake that devastated Nepal, with 38 of the 39 injuries reported from the state.
Union Home Ministry sources said Bihar’s capital Patna accounted for the largest number of four deaths, followed by Darbhanga and Saran (two each), besides Siwan, Nawada, Samastipur, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Madhepura, Motihari and Purnia recording one death each. Another death was reported from Uttar Pradesh.
The April 25 earthquake had left 58 dead in Bihar, the largest in the country.
The Nepalese Embassy in Delhi, quoting information till 1640 hours, said the fresh quake and aftershocks left 21 dead and 543 injured, even as the country is grappling with a humanitarian crisis of Himalayan proportions, with the April 25 temblor having claimed over 8000 lives.
Today’s quake struck at 12:35 PM some 70 kilometres east of capital city Kathmandu at a depth of 18.5 kilometres, followed by three aftershocks of 6.2, 5.4 and 4.8, Indian Meteorological Department said.
Though the quake was felt in areas far apart from Delhi to Chennai, there were no reports of casualties or major loss of property from these places.
The ripples from today’s quake brought back the memories of April 25, with panic-stricken residents rushing out of buildings in Delhi, West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.
At least 12 students were injured in a school in Darbhanga in Bihar as children rushed out to safety from class rooms after the tremors.
The Delhi Secretariat as well as many government buildings in the national capital were evacuated immediately after the quake. Metro services were immediately restricted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the situation in the aftermath of the fresh quake and directed the authorities concerned to be on alert to rush in relief and carry out rescue operations wherever necessary.
“PM took stock of the situation following the fresh major earthquake felt in Nepal and parts of India, at a high-level meeting,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The Home Ministry is collecting information from states about the damage caused by the quake and National Disaster Response Force has been put on alert, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said.
Director General of IMD LS Rathore said aftershocks could continue for weeks or maybe months.