India quake sends panicked people fleeing

2012-05-11 18:31
Guwahati - India was shaken by a shallow 5.4-magnitude earthquake on Friday that sent people fleeing into the streets in panic, damaged buildings and left two injured.

One house collapsed and cracks appeared in some buildings in the quake, which had its epicentre in Guwahati, the main commercial city of the mineral- and tea-rich state of Assam.

In Guwahati and other populated centres, buildings shook for a few seconds and people ran out into the streets in alarm.

"We have information that one house has collapsed and two people are injured in Kampur village," which lies some 40km from Guwahati, a government official told AFP.

There were no immediate reports of further damage or casualties.

The tremor measured 5.4 on the Richter scale, an official at the Indian meteorological department told AFP in New Delhi.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude of the quake at 5.3 and said that it struck at 12:41 GMT.

The quake was shallow, at a depth of 11km, the USGS said.

In September last year, a powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the border of India's northeastern state of Sikkim and Nepal, killing over 100 people.

The quake wrought destruction in towns and villages on both sides of the Indian and Nepal border as well as in southern Tibet and the tiny kingdom of Bhutan.

India's seven northeastern states, joined to the rest of the country by a narrow sliver of land, are located in an area of frequent seismic activity.

In 1950, dozens of villages were swallowed in a string of disasters generated by a powerful earthquake whose epicentre was in Tibet but which caused the greatest destruction to India's Assam state.

More than 1 500 people died in the quake, which had a magnitude of 7.6, and its disastrous aftermath of landslides and floods.

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