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500 feared killed as powerful quake rocks Gujarat
PTI, PTI
Ahmedabad, March 05, 2003
First Published: 15:57 IST(5/3/2003)
Last Updated: 15:57 IST(5/3/2003)

Nearly 500 people were feared killed and hundreds injured on Friday when a powerful earthquake ripped through Gujarat sending tremors all over the country and in neighbouring Nepal and Pakistan.

Officials, while confirming 374 deaths, feared that the toll could be 500 as many people were still trapped under the debris of collapsed buildings in various parts of the state.
The worst-hit was the coastal Bhuj town where a five-storeyed building collapsed killing 150 people, followed by Ahmedabad with 130 deaths, official sources here said.
Surendranagar accounted for 54 deaths followed by Surat 27, Bhavnagar five, Navsari five and Patan four and Valsad two, they said.

The Army has been pressed into service here to rescue people trapped in houses and buildings, which collapsed injuring 300 people, chief minister Keshubhai Patel told newsmen.
The quake, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale and epicentered around 25 km northeast of Bhuj, occurred around 8.46 a.m., the seismological department said here.

US, France and China's observatories recorded the quake's intensity at over 7.5 on the Richter scale.

Several multi-storeyed structures and buildings collapsed as the quake, lasting nearly two minutes, rocked other parts of the state including Rajkot, Palanpur, Godhra and Kheda.
In the national capital, the tremor, which lasted around 30 seconds, was felt nearly an hour before the Republic Day celebrations began at Rajpath, where President K R Narayanan unfurled the national flag and witnessed an impressive parade.

At least four people, including a four-year-old girl, were killed in Pakistan's Sind province.
Rajasthan also experienced tremors and parts of a historic fort in the State were damaged. In Jaisalmer, the back portion of the historic 'Salam Singh Ki Haveli' cracked and fell on the roof of a neighbouring house. Two slabs of the upper portion of 'Hawa Pol' inside the historic Golden Fort in Jaisalmer also fell on the ground creating havoc among the people residing the colony inside the fort.

Reports of tremors were also reported from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. A report from Pondicherry said the Republic Day celebrations were interrupted due to the quake.

Maximum damage was reported from Gujarat which bore the brunt of the quake. A report from Rajkot said at least 19 students of an engineering college in Morbi area were trapped as the structure collapsed. The principal of the college sought medical assistance from the district authorities, it said.

Hundreds of buildings collapsed or developed cracks due to the impact of the quake which caused panic in the entire state forcing people to flee from their houses, reports said.
Reports of the quake were trickling in from different parts of the country. A report from Kolkata said an earthquake of "moderate to great intensity" shook parts of eastern India with mild tremors felt in and around the metropolis at around 8.50 a.m. The quake measured above seven on the Richter Scale, it said.

Andhra Pradesh also recorded mild tremors in Vijayawada city and surrounding areas at around 8.46 a.m. There was no report of any damage due to tremors, which lasted for two to three seconds, police sources said.


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