N Bengal quake triggers fears

Wednesday 29th April 2015 06:01 EDT

An earthquake with its epicentre 5 km southwest of Mirik in Darjeeling district rattled West Bengal on Monday, triggering panic in the hills and plains of North Bengal where terrified people saw it as a sign that the Nepal tragedy was getting closer home.

Hundreds of people in multi-storey buildings in Darjeeling decided to sleep in the open. In Siliguri, highrise residents have pitched tents in open ground to spend the night. Measuring 5.1, the quake was moderate, but people panicked because there have never been three earthquakes on three consecutive days in living memory.

"This has never happened before. Since this is an earthquake-prone region, people fear the worst," said Girish Pradhan, a former professor of geology at Darjeeling's Loreto College. Darjeeling district magistrate Puneet Yadav said there were no casualties or damage to property, but residents said that cracks had formed in many buildings.

A multi-storied shopping complex is said to have tilted a few degrees. Hundreds of residents have been spending their nights at Chowrasta and Mall since the Nepal quake and hundreds more joined them on Monday. Most people living in multi-storied apartments have moved in with friends in one-storey houses with open courtyards to rush to safety in case of another quake.

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