Uttarkashi earthquake

Mar 14, 2003 11:52 AM IST

Garhwal, especially Uttarkashi, Tehri and Chamoli districts were hit on Dusshera, 1991.

Date: 20.10.1991

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Origin Time: 02hrs: 53 minutes

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Epicentre: 30.75 N 78.86 E
Magnitude: 6.6
Focal Depth: 12kms

The first of the major earthquakes to strike the Indian subcontinent in the 1990s, the quake devastated Garhwal, especially Uttarkashi, Tehri and Chamoli districts on Dusshera night. The official death toll was 769, though unofficial estimates put the toll at a higher level. Major cities in the area including Dehra Dun and Almora were affected while the tremors were felt as far away as Pune in the Deccan. It recorded 58 aftershocks till the 28th of November, 1991.

The epicentre of the earthquake was located 10.5 kilometres east of Pilang, now in Uttaranchal. This was the deadliest earthquake in the Himalayan region since 1950. While most of the deaths were in Uttaranchal, then part of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh reported casualties too. According to Up Government, 1819 villages were affected by this earthquake. An estimated population of 4.22 lakhs was directly affected. About 90,000 houses have been damaged of which about 20,000 fully and 70,000 partially. The quake also attracted attention due to its proximity to the high Tehri dam. The quake was also among the recent Indian earthquakes that have been instrumentally recorded and studied. Geologists believe that this earthquake occurred because of a slippage along the Main Central Thrust (MCT), a major tectonic boundary, which also divides two almost parallel Himalayan ranges.

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