Houses swayed in Srinagar, Delhi’s clockwork Metro service stopped, people in much of north India dashed out of buildings and phone lines were jammed on Monday afternoon under the impact of a 7.5-magnitude earthquake originating in Afghanistan’s Hindukush mountains.
Closest to the epicentre, Jammu and Kashmir felt the most of the minute-long tremor that reminded people in the hill state of the 2005 killer quake.
As buildings began swinging, a stone dislodged by the quake crushed a 16-year-old boy in Reasi district, two women died of cardiac arrest in Baramulla and Anantnag districts while two army men were injured when their bunker collapsed in Sopore, 55km from Srinagar, a police officer said.
Some buildings were damaged in Rajouri district and a wall of the historic Bheem Garh Fort in Reasi town caved in. Two wards of the Rajouri district hospital developed cracks as did some multi-storey government and private buildings in Srinagar.
The quake triggered panic waves across Delhi and its satellite townships, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan. Thousands of people rushed out of their homes and offices as high-rise buildings shook all across the region.
“Please stay calm & do not panic. Disaster management teams have been activated,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted after the quake jolted the Capital and people scurried for cover.
A senior Metro official said services were stopped from 2.40pm to 2.55pm, and resumed after safety checks. The brief break was enough to leave thousands of passengers stranded as nearly 27 lakh people take the Metro every day.
Panic gripped thousands of commuters travelling in metro trains as the trains were halted.
“I have been stranded in the train for the past 15 minutes,” said Nitin Jain from the Akshardham Temple Metro Station in east Delhi.
Delhi and neighbouring areas were hit as a 7.5 Richter Scale quake with its epicentre in Afghanistan hit large parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India.
“We felt the tremors. I was on my chair, and suddenly it started shaking. I rushed out,” said Ashish Pandey, an executive in an office on the fourth floor of a mall in Jaipur.
The high-volume traffic after the quake jammed phone lines in most states, especially Jammu and Kashmir, with people trying desperately to reach their near and dear ones. BSNL authorities said the glitches were quickly resolved. Subscribers of private operators in Delhi too complained of poor connectivity after the tremors.
Mild tremors were felt in some parts of Gujarat and north-west Madhya Pradesh as well.