A strong earthquake has shaken northeastern India and Nepal, killing at least 16 people and damaging buildings.The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, was felt across northeast India.
A strong earthquake has shaken northeastern India and Nepal, killing at least 16 people and damaging buildings.
The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9, was felt across northeast India. It triggered at least two aftershocks of magnitude 6.1 and 5.3, Indian seismology official RS Dattatreyan said. He warned that more aftershocks were possible.
At least five people in India's Sikkim state were killed and more than 50 were injured, according to the state's top official. Nepal's government said five people died and dozens were hurt there.
The full extent of the damage was not immediately known because the region is sparsely populated, with many living in remote areas that were cut off by mudslides triggered by the quake, Singh said.
TV stations reported collapsed buildings and cracked pavements in Sikkim's state capital of Gangtok, 42 miles southeast of the quake's epicentre. The Indo-Tibetan border police said two of its buildings had collapsed in Gangtok.
Rescuers were searching for anyone pinned under fallen buildings in the city, which has a population of 50,000, Singh said.
"We have sounded a high alert. Police are on the streets in Gangtok and other major towns," he said.
Electricity and some phone services were interrupted in the area. Power lines snapped in the West Bengal cities of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, which "are now in total darkness", state chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.
The Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, offered to send troops to help, and summoned the National Disaster Management Authority for an emergency meeting. The air force sent five planes to help with rescue efforts.
In neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh, the quake sent residents rushing out of their homes, offices and shopping centers.
In Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, members of parliament who were debating the national budget ran out of the assembly hall into a parking area. They returned 15 minutes later and resumed their session.
The quake was felt as far away as the Indian capital, with New Delhi residents rushing out of shaking buildings.