6.8 earthquake jolts Kashmir, triggers panic

Many residential houses, Masjid develop cracks; IGP Kashmir says no loss of life reported

Panic gripped entire Kashmir on Sunday after a strong earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale hit the region, forcing people out of their homes. There was no loss of life reported due to the quake, police said, but many residential structures developed cracks while walls of a few houses collapsed due to strong jolts.

The Meteorological Department in Srinagar asserted that the depth of the quake was 190 kms and that’s why damage was averted.

“The earthquake measured 6.8 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was Hindukush region in Afghanistan. The depth of quake saved people of Kashmir. Had the depth been lesser than 190 kms, the damage would have been maximum, especially in the summer capital,” Director MeT department Sonam Lotus told Greater Kashmir. “The quake struck Kashmir exactly at 3.58 pm. Before that, some very mild tremors were noticed and that was the signal of a bigger one.”

Lotus said people should remain ready for aftershocks and immediately rush out of their homes after feeling the jolts.

In Kashmir’s commercial hub Lal Chowk, where Sunday market was abuzz with shoppers, people sat down on road while traffic got disrupted due to the high intensity quake. Many female tourists were also seen crying and running for safer locations while several people and tourists took refuge in nearby Pratap Park.

Chaotic scenes were witnessed in Srinagar hospitals with patients and their attendants reciting the verses of holy Qur’an as the quake hit the region, witnesses said.

“I thought it’s the end of my life. It was massive one,” said Altaf Ahmad, who sells garments in Sunday Market here.

The business activities resumed after more than 10 minutes. In Srinagar, outer walls of a few residential houses collapsed due to the quake, witnesses said.

“There was no loss of life in Srinagar but walls of an old structure caved in due to the quake at Habba Kadal in old city,” Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone said. The house belongs to Hashmatullah Wadda.

Reports of roof-collapse also poured in from Shivpora area of Srinagar. The house belonging to Safia Habib wife of Habibullah Pandav suffered damages due to the quake as roof of the house suddenly caved in.

“Thank God, all the inmates are safe. Our goods suffered damage due to the roof collapse,” Pandav said.

Reports said two residential houses were damaged at Tantraypora in Palhallan area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. “The houses belong to Abdur Rashid Dar and Zahoor Ahmed Lone,” police sources said. 

In Kupwara district of north Kashmir, a second-storey of a Jamia Masjid in Lalpora, Lolab got partially damaged. A residential house there also suffered mild damage due to the quake.

There were no reports of any damage to life or property from South Kashmir. Similarly, Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir registered no loss of property, officials said.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani said there were reports of mild damages to a few residential houses across Kashmir. “We didn’t receive any reports of loss to life due to the quake,” he said.

Since 2009, Kashmir, which falls in seismic zone V, has been hit by 105 minor and major tremors. 

Around 30 earthquakes hit the Kashmir between 2015 and 2016.

Tremors rattled Kashmir thrice in January and once in February this year, the data available with the MeT department suggests.

Three people lost their lives when an earthquake measuring 6.7 on Richter scale hit Kashmir on October 26, 2015. In November and December 2015, the state was hit by six earthquakes with one of them 6.5 on the Richter scale in which two people died of heart attack. Kashmir witnessed deadly earthquake in 2005 inflicting massive damage to life and property across the Line of Control