December 2005 News

Another Big One Unleashes Panic, No Loss Of Life Reported

13 December 2005
The Indian Express

Srinagar: After the killer October earthquake, which killed around 1,400 people, J-K again woke to the alarming shudder of the strongest aftershock so far - 6.7 on the Richter scale.At around 3.17 a.m., when the houses and shelters started jolting, it was a brush with a familiar fear, bringing people out in a jiffy, distraught and scared. However, Director, Meterological Department, C.L. Ram said the quake was in no way related to the October 8 tremblor, but part of the aftershocks associated with the November 27 earthquake along Iran's southern coastline - 5.9 on the Richter scale. 'The epicentre of today's quake is 400 miles away in Hindukush mountains of north-eastern Afghanistan and has no relation to Kashmir quake,' Ram told The Indian Express. As for the aftershocks of Kashmir earthquake, Ram said they are already abating in frequency. 'They are now fewer and far between. Besides, even their intensity has considerably diminished. This means the energy of the quake has now been by and large dissipated,' Ram said. Nevertheless, the quake spread terror through the state, this time reinforced by its coming in the dead of night - in freezing -5.5 temperature. 'It almost felt like the October 8 earthquake. Our shelter rocked and tin sheets creaked. I grabbed my children and shouted to my elder parents. Then we rushed outdoors,' said Muhammad Iqbal, an engineer in Kamalkote, adding, 'Outside, people started crying, fearing fresh devastation.' But thankfully, despite the intensity of the quake, J-K escaped unscathed. 'There is no report of any major damage from any area,' the Relief Commissioner for Uri, B.A. Runiyal, told ENS. 'I went across the area in the morning. People are scared, but life and property is safe,' he said. The lack of any further damage in Uri and Tanghdar is, however, put down to the fact that hardly any concrete house stands in the entire swathe. 'All the people are living in tin sheds or canvas tents. This time we didn't have stone and brick houses toppling upon us,' said Naseer Ahmad Wani of Uri. Runiyal said the government has assessed all the fully and partially damaged houses and even disbursed the relief and money among the owners. 'So, there was no question of a substantial material loss this time,' said Runiyal. In the interiors of the state, however, there are reports of houses developing cracks. 'There were already some fissures on the walls of our house as a result of the continuing aftershocks. I find they have widened now,' said Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Mohalla Jalal Sahib, Baramulla, a town in the interior Valley, 50 kms away from Uri. Across the district Kupwara in North Kashmir, many a house have toppled, but there has been no loss of life. Dr G.M. Bhat from Department of Geology, Jammu University, says today's tremblor was the result of activities of a new faultline. He said besides experiencing the aftershocks of the Muzaffarabad quake, people will also witness the aftershocks of today's quake. He said Dr Roger William from Colorado University in USA has predicted about J&K that in the near future another earthquake to the magnitude of 8.2 on Richter scale will hit the state. He said recently the disaster management committee of Jammu University has submitted a report to the state government, citing the need to monitor the seismic activities in the state. 'We have yet to hear from the government in this regard,' he added. He said the Central government has already approved the setting up of three seismic centres, but the state government's help is also needed as after three years, the Centre will stop providing funds to the project. He said that with the establishment of these stations the seismic activities in the state could be recorded and studied in a better way.


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