Ripples from a massive earthquake and a series of aftershocks that hit neighbouring Nepal on Tuesday killed 17 people in India, as buildings tottered and throngs of anxious residents spilled into the streets.
At least 16 people died and many were injured in Bihar less than three weeks after a 7.8-magnitude quake claimed over 8,000 lives in Nepal and killed about 80 people in India.
The state government announced a 48-hour alert and chief minister Nitish Kumar called a crisis management meeting, while a dozen students were reportedly hurt when their school building caved in Darbhanga district.
One person died in Uttar Pradesh while two others were injured as state capital Lucknow was rattled by three tremors within 30 minutes, officials said.
"Chaos and panic started. People came out of their houses. I didn't realise the intensity of the quake until I saw people posting about it on social media," said Shaurya Mishra, a student.
The union home ministry said it was in constant touch with states following the 7.3-magnitude temblor while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were on alert.
"The home ministry is collecting details and information about any damage from the earthquake in India," said minister Rajnath Singh.
People scrambled out of homes and offices in parts like West Bengal, Delhi, Assam and Odisha, with memories of last month's monster quake still fresh.
People rush to safer places near Kailash Building at Connaught Place, New Delhi, after experiencing strong tremors. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)
Judges and advocates were seen rushing out of courtrooms in Kolkata while several schools were shut down in north Bengal.
"As per reports so far, eight people received minor injuries during the earthquake. Of them, three were from Siliguri and five others were from Matigara in north Bengal," said state home secretary Basudeb Banerjee.
Several government buildings and high-rises were evacuated in the national capital as well as neighbouring satellite cities while Metro services screeched to a halt for a few minutes and cellphone services were also hit.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, other ministers and officials hurried out of the state secretariat where a cabinet meeting had just ended.
"I was in my cabin when I felt some movement. Meanwhile, a siren was sounded and I went out of the building as did most of my colleagues," said Deepak Joshi, minister of state for school education.
Cracks cropped up in many buildings in Assam's capital Guwahati while train movement was restricted in parts of eastern and northeastern India.
"It was big... we could feel the earth shaking for a long time...and then there were more aftershocks," said Ankur Baruah, an IT professional.
(With agency inputs)