Earthquake hits India's Manipur state

  • 4 January 2016
  • From the section India
Media captionA number of buildings collapsed and many others were damaged by the earthquake

An earthquake measuring 6.7 magnitude has hit north-east India, near its borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, killing at least nine people.

The quake struck at 04:35 local time (23:05 GMT Sunday) about 29km (18 miles) north-west of Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

Strong tremors have been felt across the region.

Six of those killed were in Manipur while Bangladesh reported three deaths.

The earthquake was originally reported to have measured 6.8 magnitude.

India's Meteorological Department said it struck at a depth of 17km (about 10 miles).

The tremor cracked walls and a newly-built six-storey building in Imphal collapsed, police said. Other buildings were also reported to have been damaged.

As well as six people killed, more than were 30 injured in Manipur, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

In the neighbouring Bangladesh, three people were reported dead while dozens were being treated in hospital for injuries sustained during the quake.

The BBC's Salman Saeed in Dhaka said panicked residents fled into the streets.

A 23-year-old man died when he suffered a stroke after the quake while two others died of heart attacks, news agency AFP quoted police as saying.

A university student, who jumped from a fourth-floor balcony to escape, was among the critically wounded, the agency added.

At the scene, Paojel Chaoba, journalist, Imphal

Image copyright Reuters

I was woken up by a terrible jolt and felt my building shake. We ran out into the street below.

It was a complete scene of panic: people were fleeing their homes, and shouting.

Several buildings have collapsed in Imphal, and many others have suffered structural damage.

The worst affected appears to be the Mother's Market or the 'Ima Keithel' area. It is home to lots of buildings, private houses, a hospital and the city's press club.

Many of them have been damaged in the quake and the entire area has been cordoned off. A number of buildings there have been evacuated.

A number of electricity lines have been damaged and many areas are without power.

At the main regional hospital in Imphal, 37 people have been admitted with injuries.

This, in my experience, is the worst quake to hit Imphal.

Deepak Shijagurumayum, a resident of Imphal, told AFP by phone that his house was severely damaged by the quake.

"Almost everyone was asleep when it struck and were thrown out of their beds," Mr Shijagurumayum said.

"People were crying and praying in the streets and in open spaces. Hundreds remained outdoors for several hours fearing aftershocks."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Reports say at least 30 people have been injured in Manipur
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The injured have been arriving at hospitals in the area
Image copyright AP
Image caption Indian soldiers and local people remove debris from a damaged building

Shaking was felt as far away as Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), 600km (370 miles) away. "Many people were seen coming out of their homes in panic," local resident Rabin Dev told AFP news agency.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he had spoken to the region's chief ministers and federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh "on the situation arising in the wake of the earthquake".

Casualties have not yet been reported on the Myanmar side of the border, which is sparsely populated.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption People were sent running into the streets in nearby Bangladesh too

The region has a history of powerful earthquakes caused by the northward collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates. They are moving towards each other at a rate of 4-5cm per year.

In 2005, a magnitude 7.6 quake in Pakistan-administered Kashmir left more than 75,000 people dead.

In April 2015, Nepal suffered its worst earthquake on record with 9,000 people killed and about 900,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

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