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6.4-Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Assam, Seven Aftershocks Follow

Tremors also felt in other parts of Northeast, north Bengal and Bangladesh on Wednesday morning

6.4-Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Assam, Seven Aftershocks Follow
A CRPF personnel stand guards near an earthquake-damaged building at Bhetapara in Guwahati.

Assam was jolted awake on Wednesday morning as an earthquake of 6.4 magnitude hit the state leaving in its wake cracks on walls of buildings and other damage all over but no casualties.

Assam, which falls in the highest seismic hazard zone 5 is no stranger to earthquakes, but the Wednesday tremor compared to the one on July 29, 1960 when a 6-magnitude strong earthquake had hit the state.

People watch an earthquake-damaged building at Bhetapara in Guwahati. Image: PTI

 The quake, which occurred at 7.51am at a depth of 17km, had its epicentre in Sonitpur district in central Assam, according to the National Centre for Seismology.

Tremors were also felt in other parts of the Northeast besides West Bengal, Bihar and Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal twice on Wednesday to enquire about the damages caused by the earthquake that rocked the state and assured all necessary help from the Centre.

There were at least seven aftershocks of moderate intensity within a span of a couple of hours.

A man stands near a severely damaged wall due to a high-intensity earthquake, in Guwahati. Image: Surajit Sharma

 “I had just got up when the earthquake struck. I took it to be one of those usual tremors, but it seemed to go on and on and kept increasing in intensity,” said Anirban Kakoty of Ganeshguri in Guwahati, adding that he was forced to then run out of the house. “I generally keep important papers separately to carry in such an eventuality, but I even forgot to take it,” he said.

Similar tales abound across the state – of fear and anxiety.

A 55-year-old woman, Labanya Saikia, was reported to have died from heart attack in Nagaon district when the earthquake struck.

In Guwahati, an overhead water tank in a building burst and the water flooded the floor of an apartment below whose ceiling had cracked.

There were also reports of water breaking through to the surface in paddy fields in some places and long cracks developing.

“Big earthquake hits Assam. I pray for the well-being of all and urge everyone to stay alert. Taking updates from all districts,” tweeted Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

Senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted that the epicentre was in Dhekiajuli town in Sonitpur.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to say that he spoke to Sonowal and assured all help from the Centre. “Spoke to Assam CM Shri @sarbanandsonwal Ji regarding the earthquake in parts of the state. Assured all possible help from the Centre. I pray for the well-being of the people of Assam,” he tweeted.

Home minister Amit Shah also tweeted, “Have spoken to Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal to assess the condition in different parts of the state after an earthquake. Central govt stands firmly with our sisters and brothers of Assam. Praying for everyone’s safety and well-being.”

Assam had suffered its biggest earthquake post-Iindependence on 15 August in 1950. It measured 8.6 magnitude and led to more than 1,500 deaths and largescale destruction of properties and was said to have even altered the course of the Brahmaputra.

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