Islamabad/New Delhi: On Tuesday evening at around 4:30 PM, a sudden earthquake shook Pakistan and parts of northern India. Tremors were felt in the evening across northern India, including Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region), although no damage was reported in India.
Jatalan was the epicentre of this earthquake, 15 km from Mirpur in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and 173 km northwest from Lahore. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the intensity of the quake has been measured at 5.8 on the Richter scale. India felt the highest intensity of this quake in Jammu and Kashmir.
At around 4:30 PM, people of northern India experienced the tremors. In Pakistan, earthquakes have left roads with huge cracks and overturned vehicles in many places. There is also news of the death of a woman in Jatalan.
There are reports of loss of lives and material from Mirpur. The quake has caused massive destruction in the town. There are reports of 5 deaths and 50 injuries. The injured and have been taken to hospitals.
Earthquake felt across north-western India
Due to tremors felt in Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad and Delhi, people came out of offices and homes. For a long time, people stood in parks and other empty spaces outside buildings, fearing the structures would collapse.
The intensity of the earthquake in Lahore and Islamabad of Pakistan was higher than in Indian cities. On 20 September, quake tremors were felt also in the Palghar district of Maharashtra. However, no casualties were reported in that quake.
Chandigarh felt the earthquake. The other cities in India that experienced the quake are Rajouri, Poonch, Jammu, Udhampur and parts of Ramban in Jammu and Kashmir. Tremors have been felt in many areas of Delhi and NCR. Tremors were felt also in various cities of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan including Ambala, Panipat, Amritsar, Ludhiana.
Many areas of the country, including Delhi-NCR, fall into earthquake-prone areas. Especially Seismic Zone 5 (Five) is the most dangerous area in the country.
Seismic Zone 2
The rest of the country falls in Seismic Zone 2. It is less susceptible to an earthquake. Here, earthquake, if any, will not be of magnitude higher than 4.9 on the Richter scale.
Seismic Zone 3
Seismic Zone 3 is considered moderately earthquake-prone. The zone includes the remaining areas of Kerala, Goa, Lakshadeep, UP, Gujarat and West Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Seismic Zone 4
Seismic Zone 4 is considered to be very dangerous. Quakes of magnitude 7 to 7.9 on the Richter scale may occur here. This zone includes capital Delhi, NCR region, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Bihar and West Bengal. Some parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan adjacent to the west coast fall in this zone.
Seismic Zone 5
Seismic zone 5 means an earthquake of magnitude more than 8 on the Richter scale can occur here. This zone includes the entire Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal areas, Kutch in Gujarat, northern Bihar and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Why do earthquakes occur?
The earth has twelve tectonic plates, beneath which flows a fluid is in the form of lava (molten earthen matter). These plates float on the lava. Earthquakes occur due to a collision of these plates when, every year, these plates move about 4 to 5 mm from their previously held position.
Delhi falls in Seismic Zone 4 while Mumbai and Kolkata are in Seismic Zone 3. The fact that there has fortunately been no major quake in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata does not make these major cities of the country any less vulnerable.
According to records of the movement of tectonic plates, a terrible quake can occur anytime in the capital of India. The earthquakes in Bihar in 1934 and Assam in 1950 underscore the point that rare occurrence is no guarantee for safety. According to geologists, the 1950 Assam earthquake had prepared the ground for a major quake in the Himalayas; 65 years have passed since that earthquake and now a very severe quake is likely to occur.
Delhi will not be able to face an earthquake
One of the major problems of Delhi-NCR region is population density. Millions of buildings in the capital Delhi, with a population of nearly two crore, peculiarly stand chhek-by-jowl with no civic law that forces people to leave gaps in between adjacent houses unlike in the cities of eastern and southern India. These buildings are decades old. There will be a huge loss of life and property in the event of a big quake in Delhi.
Near the Panipat area, a little away from Delhi, there is a fault line in the ground, due to which the possibility of an quake is a clear and present danger.
Some 70% to 80% of Delhi’s buildings are dangerous, believe experts.
What to do if there is an earthquake?
Do not panic as soon as you feel an earthquake. One should, however, leave the building he/she is in and stand in an empty space away from big concrete structures. Take the children and the elderly out of the house first.
While keeping things in the house, heavy items should not be kept overhead like on a loft.