A powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck central Nepal late Friday night, shaking buildings as far away as New Delhi and across northern India.
The intense temblor occurred around 1:57am local time with the epicenter about 90 miles northwest of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The quake rattled homes and high-rises in Delhi and the National Capital Region, waking up millions of residents who rushed outside in panic. Tremors were felt as far as Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Patna in Bihar, with people reporting buildings swaying. There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.
Third Major Quake in Nepal This Month
This is the third severe earthquake to hit Nepal in November. On November 1st, a 5.9 magnitude tremor struck northwest Nepal, damaging houses and buildings. Earlier on November 9th, a 6.3 magnitude quake killed six people and injured five more in Nepal’s Doti district when walls collapsed.
Nepal suffers frequent seismic activity due to its location along volatile fault lines at the convergence of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates.
A massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April 2015 killed nearly 9,000 people and destroyed over half a million homes in Nepal. The country is still rebuilding from the devastating temblor. Experts warn the risk of another high magnitude earthquake remains very high in the seismically active Himalayan nation.
Delhi High-Rises Shake, Residents Rush Outdoors
Many residents of Delhi and adjoining areas were jolted awake past midnight as buildings swayed and lights flickered during the intense shaking that lasted up to 30 seconds.
“I was lying in bed and around 2 am everything started shaking. The ceiling fan and cupboards were shaking violently so I rushed out,” said Rohit Kumar, a Delhi resident.
Social media lit up with reports from rattled locals across the region. High-rise towers in Noida, Gurugram and Faridabad also shook precariously, leading some to evacuate.
“It was a scary scene with buildings swinging. We were on the 19th floor so we felt it a lot. Thankfully nothing seems damaged,” tweeted Meera Rai, a Noida resident.
While the tremors triggered panic, no casualties or infrastructure damage have been reported so far. Seismologists say the epicenter’s distance of nearly 500 miles from Delhi muted the impact on the capital city, located in seismic zone IV — a moderate damage risk zone.
Northern States Feel Tremors But No Major Damage
The earthquake’s shockwaves were experienced across northern India. Residents of Uttar Pradesh cities like Lucknow and Kanpur also felt prolonged rumbling as seismic waves traveled outward across the Indo-Gangetic plains.
Patna, the capital of Bihar about 620 miles from the epicenter, witnessed strong tremors that drove worried locals outdoors. But officials reported no immediate damage in the state, which falls in earthquake zone III. Other eastern states like West Bengal, and Assam in zone V, the least earthquake prone zone, also had mild shaking without significant harm.
Seismologists explained that while the earthquake was very strong at the epicenter, damage diminishes the further away the waves move as the energy dissipates over distance. Building construction also plays a key role in absorbing seismic shocks.
Aftershocks and Landslides Could Pose Added Risks
After a major earthquake, affected areas often experience multiple aftershocks ranging from lower to greater magnitude due to shifts in tectonic plates. These can continue for weeks and add to collateral damage.
The mountainous terrain of Nepal flooded with monsoon rains also raises the risk of landslides being triggered by seismic activity. Mudslides and rockfalls can wipe out roads and infrastructure in remote mountain towns and cut off access to essential relief and rescue services.
Authorities in Nepal are assessing damage and casualties in remote villages near the epicenter that may take time to reach. The death toll could rise as reports come in from isolated areas already reeling from two previous earthquakes this month.
-Quotes and details attributed to USGS, local residents and seismologists. Safety information based on analysis from earthquake experts.
This breaking news account will be updated as more details emerge. Our reporters are working to keep you informed on this developing earthquake story. Check back regularly for the latest or sign up for our news alerts.