Magnitude 6.8 quake in India, several dead
Sep 18, 2011, 8:50 a.m.
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit a remote area in northeastern India on Sunday evening, killing at least two people and damaging buildings and blocking roads, as well as killing four in neighboring Nepal, officials said.
One child died in Sikkim state, the epicenter of the earthquake, and another person died in Bihar state as a result of a stampede sparked by the quake, CNN-IBN broadcaster said.
The Himalayan region is prone to landslides and many high-rise buildings have come up in Sikkim's mountain towns over the last few years of economic boom. There were concerns that the toll could rise as information arrived from remote areas.
In neighboring Nepal, four people died.
"Four people were injured when a wall collapsed after the quake. All of them were rushed to hospital but 3 died during treatment," said Kedar Rijal, the chief of Kathmandu police.
Several buildings collapsed in Sikkim's capital Gangtok, and widespread power cuts were reported across the northeastern state, television channels said.
There were also reports of landslides in Sikkim and West Bengal state.
Several Indian Air Force jets with personnel and equipment were immediately dispatched to Sikkim.
The U.S. Geological Survey said on its website the quake was centered 64 km (40 miles) north west of Gangtok, capital of Sikkim. It was 10 km (6.2 miles) deep.
"Cracks have developed in some buildings in Gangtok. Most phone lines are down and there is no electricity now. People have come out on the street," said Gangtok resident Bobby Dahal.
"It is too early to ascertain any damage. We are trying to get in touch with the state government of Sikkim to know if they need any help from us," Sujata Saunail, joint secretary of he National Disaster Management Authority, told Reuters.
Sikkim is India's least populous state, located in the Himalayas between Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.
The quake was felt all the way to Bangladesh, shaking buildings in the capital and neighboring areas. At least 10 people were injured and some buildings suffered minor damages.
Thousands of panic-stricken families in Dhaka ran out of high-rise buildings on to the streets as the ground under their feet shook.
"I never experiences such a dreadful moment in my life. Suddenly lights went off and there was people running and crying around," said Shamsul Islam, a 70-year-old man in Chittagong port city in Bangladesh.
Several earthquakes have hit north and east India this year, but none have caused major damage or injuries.
(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj in New Delhi, Anis Ahmed and Serajul Quadir in Dhaka; Writing by Paul de Bendern; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)