At least seven people were killed and more than 50 injured on Monday when a powerful, 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Manipur and other northeast states before dawn, toppling concrete buildings and splitting open roads across the highly seismic region.
Six of the deaths were in Manipur while one person was died of heart attack while fleeing from a building in Assam, which also saw damage to buildings and historical monuments dating back to the 15-16th centuries. The dead in Manipur included an 11-year-old girl.
Rescue workers in Manipur’s capital Imphal, which was severely affected, said the toll could rise as there was possibility of people still being trapped inside some damaged buildings.
Officials said flow of information from the state’s hilly interior areas was hampered by severed power lines and telecommunication links.
According to the meteorological department, the epicentre of the quake was in Tamenglong and it struck at a depth of 17km along the India-Myanmar border at around 4.30 am.
Prime minister Narendra Modi spoke to Union home minister Rajnath Singh who is in Guwahati and took stock of the situation. Modi also spoke to Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and assured all help for relief and rescue operations.
Union minister state for home Kiren Rijiju and DoNER minister Jitendra Singh also arrived in Imphal later in the day.
“The government will provide whatever possible help,” Ibobi Singh told newsmen outside the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal, before he held an emergency meeting with his cabinet ministers on the relief measures.
MHA is actively monitoring the situation after the earthquake in the North East region. NDRF teams have been rushed to affected areas.— HMO India (@HMOIndia) January 4, 2016
Panic-stricken people rushed out of their beds and homes, groggy and disoriented, when the earthquake struck, rattling buildings and windowpanes in the capital, which is home to over four lakh people.
A four-storey concrete building collapsed at Kabo Leikai in Imphal though all the people managed to rushed out to safety. One woman suffered injuries in the building collapse.
“My 60-plus father said it was the most powerful quake in the last 50 years ,” said R Pamei, a resident of Tamenglong town.
The powerful earthquake also forced closure of the iconic ‘Nupi keithel’ (women’s market) in the heart of Imphal town following damages in all the three sheds. Movement of vehicles on the Minuthong bridge in Imphal was also restricted following appearance of cracks
Spoke to Rajnath ji, who is in Assam, on the situation arising due to the earthquake & asked him to oversee the situation.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 4, 2016
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were rushed from Guwahati to join state government workers, troops of Assam Rifles, Red Cross volunteers in rescue operations.
In Guwahati, too, cracks appeared on walls in several buildings in the city. Silchar town in southern Assam, which adjoins Tamenglong district of Manipur, also experienced damages in building and houses.
Immediately after the quake, the Northeast Frontier Railway suspended train movement for two hours after cracks were spotted on tracks.
The shockwaves of the temblor was felt in other states of eastern India – West Bengal and Bihar – besides Bangladesh and Myanmar.
(With inputs from Chitra Ahanthem in Imphal and Digambar Patowary in Guwahati)