AN EARTHQUAKE of magnitude 5.8 shook northern India on Monday night, with tremors felt across Uttarakhand, Delhi and adjoining areas, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. The epicentre of the earthquake was near Beron Basti Haat Road in Rudraprayag district, about 60 km north of Srinagar (Uttarakhand) and 130 km northeast of state capital Dehradun. The quake originated about 15 km below the earth’s surface.
There were no immediate reports of damage to life or property. The tremors were felt strongly in Delhi and the NCR.
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“The tremors felt in Delhi seemed much more than what is expected for a 5.8-magnitude quake, which is a moderate intensity earthquake. As of now, it is difficult to say why it was felt so strongly or whether it was indeed more than expected. We are still studying the characteristics of the quake,” Vineet Gehlot of the National Centre of Seismology said.
Soon after the quake, which took place at 10.33 pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in multiple tweets, “Spoke to officials & took stock of the situation in the wake of the earthquake felt in various parts of North India. PMO is in touch with officials in Uttarakhand, which is the epicentre of the quake. I pray for everyone’s safety & wellbeing.”
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat reached the disaster management centre at the state secretariat in Dehradun around midnight to take stock of the situation. He will hold an emergency meeting with the state Chief secretary, Disaster Management Secretary and other senior officers.
A slight damage due to the quake can upset electoral activities and poll preparations in the state, which votes on February 15. Many booths near Ukhimath in Rudraprayag district are in remote areas, several of them snow-bound.
The epicentre was not very far from Gaurikund, the base camp of Kedarnath shrine. “There were strong tremors for around 10 seconds. We came out of our homes, but thankfully there was no damage,” Rudraprayag-based farmer Bhupendra Bhandari told The Indian Express. “We spoke with our friends near Gaurikund —- they also felt the tremors, but there was no damage.”
From Ukhimath begins a steep ascent to Kedarnath. The river Mandakini had caused massive damage at Gaurikund in the June 2013 quake. The river has almost a vertical descent from Kedarnath up to Gaurikund, from where its gradient somewhat decreases.
Uttarakhand is one of the most seismically active states in India and is no stranger to earthquakes of this magnitude. The region has experienced at least eight earthquakes of 5+ on Richter Scale since 2005, but none bigger than the one that came yesterday.