At least six people were killed when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the lower Himalayan region early Wednesday, leading to tremors rippling across north India and parts of Nepal and jolting people out of their sleep in scores of cities and villages.
The National Centre for Seismology (NCS) said the epicentre of the 6.3-magnitude earthquake, which struck at 1.57 am, was in Nepal, about 90 km east-southeast of Pithoragarh. The region has been experiencing lower magnitude quakes for the last few days.
The National Earthquake Monitoring Centre of Nepal said a 6.6-magnitude quake was recorded at 2.12 am. The epicentre was Doti district.
Two moderate earthquakes preceded the stronger tremor that jolted western Nepal, a 5.7-magnitude tremor at 9.07 pm on Tuesday and a 4.1-magnitude one shortly after at 9.56 pm. The epicentre was the same, it said.
Bhola Bhatta, the acting chief at the District Police Office in Nepal’s Doti, said all the six victims were killed by the debris of the houses damaged during the earthquake.
The tremors were felt in Delhi and the surrounding areas of Ghaziabad and Gurugram and even in Lucknow, jolting people out of their sleep.
Many people shared their experiences on Twitter, posting videos of people rushing out of their houses and neighbours gathering in groups, huddled over their phones as they tried to find out what had happened and where the epicentre was. One video showed a chandelier shaking.
”I’m just 80 km away from the centre of this earthquake…. I tell you guys…. I was in deep sleep. My table started hitting the wall…. Almirah made sound…. and my bed shook…. It was for at least 50 to 70 seconds,” posted Dinesh Sharma, who said he is based in Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh near the border.
”The tremor was absolutely clear in Lucknow too,” added Tanmay Singh.
Neha Yadav, another Twitter user, said she had been staying in Delhi for four years and had never felt such tremors.
Advocate Rahul Agrahari, who lives in Faridabad near Delhi, was eloquent in his description.
”It was like floor was hilling dulling so much Bec I sleep on the floor, Mujhe to lga bhoot h then Google kiya to got to know. Ek hamare sector ke log Kumhkaran ke aulad koi bahar hi nahi aya (sic),” he said, describing how he was shaken out of his sleep because of the quake and thought it was a ghost. It was only after he checked Google that he realised it was an earthquake.
”It’s 2 am and people are having a stroll on the streets…. Reason – #Earthquake,” said Aakash Biswas and shared a video of people moving on a street.
Among those who went on Twitter was Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi. ”Didn’t want to tweet but one can safely say it did feel like an earthquake!” she wrote on the microblogging website.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also took to social media and wrote: ”I hope all of you are safe.” Congress leader Radhika Khera urged people to ”stay alert and stay safe”.
Radio jockey Raunac said, ”It was scary…extremely scary.” The Himalayan region in Uttarakhand and adjoining Nepal has been experiencing earthquakes of lower magnitudes for the last couple of days.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the epicentre of the earthquake was at a distance of 21 km from Dipayal in Nepal.
Mild aftershocks were also felt in the Uttarakhand-Nepal region at 3:15 am and 6:27 am. The NCS said the magnitude of the two tremors was 3.6 and 4.3 respectively.
The region experienced at least two earthquakes of 4.9 magnitude and 3.5 magnitude late on Tuesday evening, the NCS data showed.
A 4.5-magnitude earthquake had struck Uttarakhand on Sunday, with the epicentre 17 km east-southeast of Uttarkashi.