At least 10 persons were injured as a powerful earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale jolted Assam, other northeastern states and adjoining North Bengal, while 10 aftershocks were recorded in the hours after the first quake which shook Sonitpur in northern Assam at 7.51 a.m. on Wednesday.
According to the National Centre for Seismology (NCS), the tremors were also felt in North Bengal and other northeastern states, including Arunachal Pradesh and neighbouring Bhutan.
As per the disaster management officials in Guwahati, there are reports of damage to buildings, roads and some other infrastructure in different parts of Sonitpur, Tezpur, Nagaon, Morigaon and adjoining areas. Detailed reports are awaited.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Assam Disaster Management Authority, G.D. Tripathi, said that no human casualty has been reported yet but 10 persons were injured in Darrang, Kamrup Metro, Nagaon and Sonitpur districts.
The official said that several apartments, buildings and hotels developed cracks. Electricity and gas supply were disrupted in some places.
The NCS data said that after the first quake, 10 aftershocks of magnitude 2.9 to 4.7 on the Richter scale were recorded over the next around 10 hours (until 5.40 p.m.) in the vicinity of Sonitpur, Nagaon, Morigaon, Darrang, Kamrup Metro districts.
The earthquake struck at 7.51 a.m. on Wednesday at a depth of 17 km from the surface.
According to a report of the NCS, the epicentre is closer to the plate boundary and located at about 80 km northeast of Guwahati and 132 km north of Shillong.
“The earthquake was also felt in some parts of Bihar, West Bengal and Bangladesh,” the NCS report said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) Minister Jitendra Singh spoke to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and assured all possible help.
After speaking over phone with Sonowal twice, Modi tweeted: “Spoke to Assam CM Shri Sarbananda Sonowal 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.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he stood in solidarity with the people of quake-hit Assam and asked party leaders and workers to be at the forefront of rescue and relief efforts.
Railway lines in northern and western Assam developed some problems due to the tremor even as the engineers and technical personnel of the Northeast Frontier Railways quickly restored the lines. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have been alerted.
Tagging a video, Assam Health and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a tweet: “Water seeping out from a paddy field in Narayanpur area of Dhekiajuli, the epicentre of the massive 6.7 earthquake in Assam.”
Immediately after the tremors were felt, Assam CM Sonowal rushed to Dhekiajuli, 140 km north of Guwahati, to assess the situation.
Successive earthquakes in the mountainous northeastern states, especially in Assam, Mizoram and Manipur, have made the authorities worried.
The northeastern states, especially Mizoram, frequently witness mild to moderate earthquakes that force the public and private builders to construct quake resistant houses.
Seismologists consider the mountainous northeastern region as the sixth most earthquake-prone belt in the world. In 1950, an earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale had altered the course of the mighty Brahmaputra river, which passes by the Guwahati city.