Natural Disasters

6.7 earthquake hits Northeast, claims lives

The state government is yet to assess the status of the hydropower projects in Manipur

By Anupam Chakravartty
Published: Monday 04 January 2016

An earthquake shook India’s northeast region early on Monday morning, killing at least eight and injuring about 40 others in Manipur. According to latest reports, the temblor measuring 6.7 on Richter scale hit around 4:37 am. Later, another 3.8 aftershock was felt in the state at 9:30 am.

The Regional Seismology Centre in Imphal has ascertained that the quake occurred 17 kilometres below Tamenlong district in Manipur, bordering Myanmar. The quake was felt across Siliguri in West Bengal, and parts of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar. According to the Regional Seismic Centre, Imphal, the epicenter of the quake is about 29 kilometres west of Imphal, the state capital. Sources in Imphal suggest that the number of injuries may rise with reports trickling in slowly from several parts of the state. 

The state government is yet to assess the status of the hydropower projects in Tamenlong. It has also been reported that several buildings in Imphal suffered damages. Officials from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs officials suggested that two teams from the National Disaster Relief Force have already been sent to Imphal.

According to regional centre, more aftershocks can be expected in this highly seismic region situated below the Eastern Himalayas. 

United States Geological Survey (USGS) has stated that the earthquake occurred as a result of strike slip faulting in the complex plate boundary region between India and Eurasia tectonic plates in Southeast Asia. In the region of the earthquake, the India plate is moving towards the north-northeast with respect to Eurasia at a velocity of approximately 48 mm/yr.

The tectonics of southeast Asia are broadly dominated by the collision of the Indian subcontinent with Eurasia, which causes uplift that produces the highest mountain peaks in the world, including the Himalayan, the Karakoram, the Pamir and the Hindu Kush ranges. 

In northeast India, the Himalayan Range takes a southward turn towards Burma (Myanmar), and plate boundary deformation characterised by folding or breaking of the Earth’s crust is more broadly distributed over a series of reverse and strike-slip structures in the Indo-Burmese Arc system, including the Sagaing, Kabaw and Dauki faults that cut across India and Myanmar. The January 3, 2016 earthquake occurred in this region of broad deformation, characterised by slips and faults, at a depth of less than 50 km within the lithosphere of the India plate, according to the USGS release. 

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