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6.4 quake strikes Assam, 10 aftershocks; tremors in NE

6.4 quake strikes Assam, 10 aftershocks; tremors in NE
(From top) A hillock at Bhairankunda picnic place brought down by the earthquake; damages inside Taj Vivanta Hotel, Guwahati; villagers collect water seeping out of cracks in a field in Sonitpur district and buildings damaged by the quake in Guwahati. (Combo pics /Twitter)
GUWAHATI/NEW DELHI, APR 28 | Publish Date: 4/28/2021 12:20:18 PM IST

A series of earthquakes jolted Assam and most of the Northeast on Wednesday, causing extensive damage to buildings and forcing people to scamper out of their homes.

There were no immediate reports of deaths, but three people were injured as the first quake of 6.4 magnitude struck Tezpur, the headquarters of Sonitpur district in Assam, at 7.51 am, officials said.

The impact was felt in almost the entire North Eastern region, parts of West Bengal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The first quake was followed in quick succession by lesser intensity tremors of 4.7, 4, and two 3.6 magnitudes at 8.03 am, 8.13 am, 8.25 am and 8.44 am, Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) Deputy Director Sanjay O’neil Shaw said.

Another earthquake of 3.2 magnitude hit Nagaon district at 10.5 a.m. A while later, another jolt of 3.4 magnitude hit Tezpur at 10.39 a.m. At 12.32 pm, the eighth quake of 2.9 magnitude hit Marigaon. It was followed by three more earthquakes, hitting Sonitpur district again, Shaw said. There were reports of extensive damage to buildings and other structures from across Assam, mostly in the central and western towns of Tezpur, Nagaon, Guwahati, Mangaldoi, Dhekiajuli and Morigaon.

“We have received reports of three people getting injured in the earthquake. However, there is no death. We are still collecting reports from different districts and assessing the total damage to the properties,” Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) CEO Gyanendra Tripathi told PTI. Several roads in the region developed wide cracks, affecting traffic. Besides, in many areas fissures were seen in fields with water oozing out, officials said.

Many religious structures, including Maha Mrityunjaya Temple in Nagaon and several mosques, developed cracks. An earth portion of a hillock in tourist spot Bhairabkunda in Udalguri district came down due to the impact of the tremors.

In Guwahati, the chief minister’s block at ‘Janata Bhawan’ complex, the state secretariat, witnessed some damage, sources said.

The luxury Taj Vivanta hotel in Guwahati also witnessed massive damage with several glass panes, ceilings and walls falling apart, hotel spokesperson Indranee Phukan told PTI.

Healthcare facilities such as Dispur Hospital, Apollo Clinic, Down Town Hospital and Excelcare Hospital also saw damage, hampering services. A multi-storied building in Nagaon tilted on the adjacent structure, triggering panic. Dozens of homes, apartment buildings and shopping malls across the state also developed cracks. Many vehicles were damaged after concrete blocks fell on them due to the jolts.

“The preliminary analysis shows that the events are located near to Kopili Fault closer to Himalayan Frontal Thrust (HFT),” the NCS said in a report.

The area is seismically very active and falls in the highest Seismic Hazard Zone V, it said. In Nagaland’s commercial hub-- Dimapur, the tremor woke up people and many ran outside their homes in panic. Strong tremors were also felt across Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Manipur.

“The timing of the earthquake saved a lot of lives. People were already awake when the earthquake hit, so they could run out in time. There would have been several casualties if this quake struck two-three hours early,” a disaster management official in Guwahati said.

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