Updated: February 13, 2021 7:49:10 am
Strong tremors were felt across northern India, including Delhi, as an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 struck southeastern Tajikistan on Friday. The epicentre was located 35 km west of the city of Murghab in Tajikistan, whose distance from Srinagar, as the crow flies, is less than 500 km.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake originated almost 92 km below the earth’s surface, enabling it to travel to large distances. Strong tremors were felt in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and even Delhi. Quakes originating in faraway places are unlikely to cause any damage, as they lose most of their destructive energy on the way and become severely weakened.
The panic was aggravated when the National Centre of Seismology (NCS), the main Indian agency that monitors earthquakes in the region, initially reported that the epicentre was near Amritsar and the earthquake originated only 10 km below the earth’s surface. That kind of quake would have caused large-scale devastation in the region. Such powerful earthquakes are not known to originate in this area. The NCS corrected its alert a few minutes later, but by that time, it had already been reported by the media.
Prone to quakes
The earthquake occured near the Hindu Kush mountain region, which is among the global hotspots for quakes with one of the major tectonic fault lines. USGS data shows that this southeastern corner of Tajikistan recorded at least 14 earthquakes of magnitude five or more in the last five years. Only one of them, which struck in 2016, was stronger than the one noted on Friday. Tremors of the ones that originate deep down the surface are felt in India as well, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.
In Kashmir, strong tremors were felt with residents gathering on streets as the first tremor was followed by a second, lasting at least 20 seconds.
BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh speaks about the earthquake tremors felt in the government guest house at Srinagar that he and many others were staying in and the atmosphere of fear.@IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/MQZxZOUHtH
— Man Aman Singh Chhina (@manaman_chhina) February 12, 2021
However, no reports of any damage have been noted yet. In some areas, the power supply was disconnected but was restored within minutes.
National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah said the tremors reminded the people of the 2005 quake in Jammu and Kashmir. “Not since the earthquake of 2005 have the tremors in Srinagar been bad enough to force me out of the house. I grabbed a blanket & ran. I didn’t remember to take my phone & so was unable to tweet ‘earthquake’ while the damn ground was shaking,” he tweeted.
In Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tweeted, “No reports of any damage so far in Amritsar or other parts of Punjab… Top officials of @PunjabPoliceInd & local administration are keeping a close watch on the situation. Praying for everyone’s safety.”
With dense fog in Amritsar, residents who gathered outside their homes after the tremors, did not wait long for the aftershocks and soon went inside.
“I was on the bed and preparing to go to sleep. Suddenly, I felt that my bed was moving and the ceiling fan was also shaking. The shocks were felt twice… I went out for some time. My neighbours had also come out,” said Sorev Sharma, a resident of Amritsar.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who was virtually interacting with students of University of Chicago, was heard saying that his entire room was “shaking”.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal prayed for people’s safety. According to the Delhi fire department, no calls were immediately received for help.
Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra also tweeted about the tremors and prayed for the well being of all.
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