Strong Quake Kills At Least 12 in India, Nepal

Posted September 18th, 2011 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
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A strong earthquake has shaken northeastern India, Nepal and other parts of the region, killing at least 12 people, damaging buildings and causing panic.

The 6.9 magnitude quake was centered in the Indian state of Sikkim, about 60 kilometers northwest of the regional capital, Gangtok. Sikkim's Chief Secretary Karma Gyatso says mudslides, building collapses and falling debris killed at least five people in the state and injured more than 50.

Indian authorities also reported a quake-related death in the neighboring state of Bihar and another death in the state of West Bengal. The quake also was felt in the Indian capital, New Delhi, and in the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

Nepalese authorities say five people were killed, three of them in the capital, Katmandu, where a perimeter wall of the British embassy collapsed. The collapsing wall killed a motorcyclist, his eight-year-old daughter and a third person. Nepalese lawmakers debating the country's budget ran out of the assembly when the building shook.

A Bangladesh-based reporter for VOA's Bangla service says the quake also caused cracks in some buildings in the capital, Dhaka.

The full extent of India's earthquake damage was not immediately known, because the affected region is mountainous and sparsely populated. Electricity and phone lines also were cut off.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called an emergency meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority to coordinate a response to the quake. The Indian air force also sent five planes to help with rescue and relief efforts.

Indian authorities recorded two strong aftershocks.