Strong quake in Manipur kills eight

Guwahati, January 4

A strong earthquake hit India’s remote northeast region before dawn today, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 100 and causing damage to several buildings.

The death and injuries were caused by falling debris. Manipur state’s home minister G Gaikhangam said several parts of the state suffered extensive damage.

He said the state capital of Imphal was hit hard, but did not give any details. Authorities were still assessing the situation, Gaikhangam told reporters.

Three people were killed in Imphal and the other five in other parts of the state, said police officer AK Jalajit.

Media reports said five people were killed by the earthquake in neighbouring Bangladesh, but there was no immediate official confirmation.

In India, the 6.7-magnitude tremor left large cracks in walls, and a portion of a popular market building collapsed in Imphal. The area is dotted with small houses.

There are few tall buildings in the region, although a newly constructed six-story building collapsed in Imphal, police said. A bridge also was damaged on the outskirts of the city.

India’s Meteorological Department said the epicentre of the quake was in the Tamenglong region of Manipur. It struck at a depth of 17 kilometres below the surface and not far from the border with Myanmar.

Police officer L Ragui said over phone that dozens of homes were slightly damaged in Tamenglong.

Shangthon Kamei, a teacher in Tamenglong, said the earthquake rattled buildings. “It lasted for around one minute. We were sleeping and were woken up by the earthquake,” he said.

Telephone and electricity connections were disrupted in some areas.

The epicentre was 35 kilometres northwest of Imphal. The area is remote, with poor cellphone and Internet connections, and information about conditions outside of major cities may take time to emerge.

Nearly 90 members of the National Disaster Response Force, a specialised federal force for natural disasters, have left to check on remote areas, police said.

People panicked and rushed out of their homes in Guwahati, the capital of neighbouring Assam state, as they felt massive shaking at least twice within 60 seconds.

In Imphal, residents said furniture was knocked over and books fell off shelves. “The ground swayed for almost a minute, jolting people awake in their homes,” said one resident, Apem Arthur.