Imphal: At least five persons were killed and over 50 injured as a strong 6.7 magnitude earthquake with epicentre in Manipur on Monday hit the northeastern region, causing damage to many buildings and spreading panic.
According to The Times of India, the death toll may be as high as eight.
Manipur bore the brunt of the temblor which struck at 4.35 AM with its epicentre at Tamenglong district at a depth of 17 km below the ground.
"So far, five deaths and 33 injuries have been reported from Imphal. Damage to a few buildings, residential units and Government offices have been reported, including damage to a six storey building in Imphal," according to National Disaster
Management Authority (NDMA).
Jolted from their sleep, people ran out of their houses in panic. Many buildings collapsed in Tamenglong while several others in Imphal, including the market complex, developed cracks, sources said. Electricity connection was cut off in the state soon after the quake.
A girl was killed in a building collapse at Tamenglong district, while another person died at Taobungkhok village in Imphal West district, police said.
Nearly 20 persons were injured in Guwahati and other areas in Assam due to the earthquake, Assam Commissioner and Secretary (Disaster Management) Pramod Kumar Tiwari told PTI. Officials said at least 30 buildings have developed cracks.
Rescue operations underway
The Army and Air Force have started working on relief and rescue operations in quake-hit Manipur.
A defence official said an AN32 plane of Air Force was going to Imphal from Guwahati to take 75 NDRF personnel for relief and rescue operations.
A C17 Globemaster & IL76 plane had been kept on standby at the Hindon airbase to respond to any further relief operations as and when needed.
Army units in Manipur have already started providing all necessary medical assistance to the injured, officials said.
Home minister to oversee the situation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had spoken to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is in Assam, and asked him to oversee the situation arising due to the earthquake.
The PM also spoke to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and other chief ministers in the region to take stock of the situation.
"MHA is actively monitoring the situation after the earthquake in the North East region," the Home Minister said.
Two National Disaster Response Force teams were air lifted from Guwahati to Imphal.
The NDMA said it was co-ordinating with the state governments, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence, NDRF, Ministry of Telecom and other concerned Government departments and agencies for search & rescue and relief.
NDMA spoke to the control room/relief commissioners of all the states in the Northeast- Manipur, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Nagaland as well as West Bengal.
The Centre will provide all necessary help and support to Manipur and other affected states, the Union Home minister said.
Singh said he has spoken to Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who will reach Impahal from Arunachal Pradesh to monitor the situation.
According to the Regional Seismological Centre, the earthquakefor is one of the biggest in recent times and was felt in the entire Northeast region.
People ran out of their homes looking for safe places in Mizoram capital Aizwal and the quake was also felt in other parts of the state. Lalchuailova, a resident of Aizawl, said that it was the strongest earthquake he had ever experienced during his 50 years.
Nagaland State Disaster Management Agency said that strong tremors were felt across the state, but there were no reports of any damage.
The official residence of the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Cachar district, which is near the epicentre at Tamenglong in Manipur, was damaged.
The Fire Station building in Cachar along with many other installations in the district also developed cracks.
All states in the Northeast are categorized under zone V in the country's Seismological map and considered to be highly vulnerable.
The NDMA said it is working in close coordination and guidance of the Prime Minister's Office.