Panicked people across the National Capital Region rushed out of their high-rise offices and homes as tremors triggered by a strong 7.8-magnitude earthquake near the Iran-Pakistan border shook northern and western India on Tuesday.
Two separate quakes - one in Nongpoh, Meghalaya and the other in eastern Tibet - rattled Northeast and Odisha, setting off a mudslide in Barpeta district of Assam that killed a boy out fishing with two friends who survived.
The quake 83 km east of Khash in Iran seems to have caused more destruction in neighbouring Pakistan, where media reported 34 deaths in southwestern Balochistan province.
Iran appeared to have emerged relatively unscathed.
Experts said the depth was the likely reason for the relatively low-level of damage.
The US Geological Survey said the quake hit at a depth of 84km.
Preliminary reports claimed 40 deaths but a provincial governor later said no one was killed.
Tremors were felt as far as Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the Gulf.
Office-goers in Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad felt the 4.14pm quake, with many rushing out of their multi-storey buildings. In Gurgaon, residential high-rises most at risk
"The television set in our office started shaking and soon the intensity of the jolts increased and I realised it was an earthquake," said Komal Sharma, who works in Connaught Place.
"We all rushed out and gathered in an open area." Panic in the air, but India escapes major devastation
For residents of east Delhi's Lalita Park it brought back memories of the November 15, 2010 building collapse, which left 71 people dead.
Experts consider east Delhi, on the Yamuna riverbed, highly vulnerable to earthquakes, along with Old Delhi, which houses buildings dating back many decades.
"I've seen multi-storey buildings in these areas that are very obviously not following any of the most fundamental rules of safety," Professor BK Rastogi, director of the Gandhinagar-based Institute of Seismological Research told HT.
Delhi is located in seismic zone IV, the second most vulnerable rating in India. Delhi’s illegal buildings no safer than cardhouse
But nearly 60% of the city homes have been constructed without a proper building plan, civic authorities concede. More quakes could hit India: Experts
Municipal authorities also have no structural safety engineers to carry out checks.
According to the Vulnerability Atlas of India 2007, of the 33.8 lakh buildings in Delhi, more than 31 lakh are at medium risk of being affected by an earthquake, while 1.46 lakh are at high risk. Tremors cause panic-like situation in skyscrapers
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