Quake jolts east, north India

Quake jolts east, north India

New Delhi: A magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit a remote area in northeastern India on Sunday evening, causing panic as far as the capital of neighbouring Bangladesh, but officials did not initially report large scale casualties or damage.

The US Geological Survey said on its website the quake was centered 64 km (40 miles) northwest of Gangtok, capital of Sikkim. It was 10 km (6.2 miles) deep.

“Cracks have developed in some buildings in Gangtok. Most phone lines are down and there is no electricity now. People have come out on the street," said Gangtok resident Bobby Dahal.

“It is too early to ascertain any damage. We are trying to get in touch with the state government of Sikkim to know if they need any help from us," Sujata Saunail, joint secretary of the National Disaster Management Authority, told Reuters.

Sikkim is the country’s least populous state, located in the Himalayas between Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

The quake was felt all the way to Bangladesh, shaking buildings in the capital and neighbouring areas, but no casualties or damage were reported immediately. Thousands of panic-stricken families in Dhaka ran out of high-rise buildings on to the streets as the ground under their feet shook.

Several earthquakes have hit north and east India this year, but none have caused major damage or injuries.

“We do not expect major damage as the quake was moderate despite being strong. But we do expect some aftershocks," said G. C. Debnath, a director at India Meteorological Department’s Kolkata unit.