A man lost his life while nearly 50 people, mostly schoolchildren, were reported injured as a moderate earthquake shook Jammu and Kashmir besides other parts of north India, including the national capital of New Delhi, at 12.27 pm on Wednesday.
The epicentre of the quake, 5.8 on the Richter scale, was at Bhaderwah in Doda district -- about 200 km from Jammu near the border with Himachal Pradesh -- where the building of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School developed cracks and a portion of a tin roof collapsed, resulting in injuries to 15 students of the ninth standard on the first floor. The lone fatality was in Kishtwar's Khawara village where 60-year-old Gosain, grazing his cattle on a hill, died on being hit by boulder.
In Dalor village, 27 children were injured as the tin roof of a private school collapsed; some sustained minor injuries in the melee. At Ghata and Udrana villages, on the outskirts of Bhaderwah town, five people were injured on being hit by stones. A portion of the Bhaderwah-Chinta road caved in, while traffic was also suspended at Thathri-Gandoh due to landslides caused by tremors.
In Bhaderwah, as the building of the recently constructed new hospital on the outskirts of the town developed cracks, patients were taken out and being treated in the open with the help of army. MLA Niaz Sharief reached the area to supervise the relief measures.
The meteorological department said tectonic plates had moved about 10 km below the earth's surface, and the damage could have been more if the depth was more.
Tremors were felt in parts of Pakistan, including Lahore and Islamabad, while the quake lasted nearly 30 seconds in Himachal Pradesh.
On Tuesday, too, a quake measuring 4.3 had been felt in Bhaderwah and adjoining areas of Doda.
On April 24, a quake measuring 5.7 epicentred in southern Afghanistan shook the National Capital Region while on April 16, a tremor of 7.8 magnitude with Pakistan-Iran border as its epicentre also had its effect in the region. PTI
Panic and rumours
The quake made people run out of offices and houses. J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah shared his panicked state on micro-blogging website Twitter: "Yup, I felt those tremors in Srinagar. Strange thing was that I heard the rumble before the house started to shake."
"I was on the third floor when the building shook. I ran out," said Shakeel Ahmad, an employee with the food and supplies department.
Phone lines were jammed as people made frantic calls, and there were unfounded online rumours predicting more quakes. "Please don't pay heed to rumours. Earthquakes cannot be predicted," said Amir Ali, who heads the state's campaign on disaster management.
Kashmir falls the most vulnerable category 5 of the seismic zone. In October 2005, a major earthquake had flattened villages in north Kashmir's Uri area and left hundreds injured. HTC, Srinagar