Deoghar debuts as earthquake epicentre

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Richter scale clocks a mild 4.2 but experts shaken over implications

Pilgrim town Deoghar became the epicentre of the moderate earthquake this morning at 8 measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, shaking parts of Jharkhand and Bihar, but sparing damage to life and property.

It was the first time that Deoghar, under zone 3 on the seismic map of India (classified as moderate damage risk zone), was a quake epicentre.

ISM-Dhanbad’s seismological observatory of the department of applied geophysics recorded the 4.2 quake at 8.05am for about eight seconds at Jama Bili area in Deoghar, some 36km away from the observatory.

No pre-shocks or aftershocks were recorded, its senior technical assistant Rajkumar Paswan added.

“The depth of the earthquake was 10km,” Ranchi Met office director B.K. Mandal further added. “A moderate quake, there is no report of damage anywhere in the state or bordering Bihar where tremors were felt, including epicentre Deoghar, as well areas such as Dhanbad, Giridih and Ranchi.”

However, special project officer with state disaster management department Colonel Sanjay Srivastava said he was worried.

“An epicentre of the earthquake in the state suggests disturbance in fault planes and river basins within the state. After a seismic shake of mild intensity like today, a stronger quake is feared in days to come, which is what we should be prepared for,” Colonel Srivastava said.

He added that Koderma and Chatra in Jharkhand were epicentres of mild quakes way back in 1988 and 1962, implying that the Deoghar one was rare occurrence for the state and should be taken seriously.

ISM’s Paswan also pointed out worrying signals.

“On November 9 this year, a quake of 2 on Richter had been recorded at Jaijuri area between Tundi and Hazaribagh, while on November 6, another of 2.7 magnitude was recorded in Simultallah area in Deoghar,” he said.

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Ranchi-based geologist Nitish Priyadarshi said primary studies suggested that stress and strain had been developing on the rocky bed beneath the state. On probable reasons, Priyadarshi said: “It may be the ripple effect of Nepal and Northeast quakes. Also, we can’t ignore mining activities in the state.”

A former senior geologist in the Geological Survey of India, Uday Pratap Singh said: “We have to understand why the faults in the area have reactivated. Those faults have been recognised in the geological map of the region.”

Contacted, Deoghar DC A. Raj Kamal said that except cracks in old buildings, no other problem was seen anywhere in the district, including the epicentre. “Life is normal,” he said.

Keshav Kumar Rai, the principal of Laxmi Devi Sarraf Adarsh Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya in Deoghar, agreed. “When tremors were felt this morning, people rushed out of homes, but the situation soon became normal.”

Asmaa Mubita is a Kenyan journalist of international repute with over fifteen years of experience in broadcast journalism. Asmaa Mubita began his journalism career at the Kenyan state broadcaster (KBC) and later worked at the KTN owned by the Standard Group and Citizen Television, the flagship brand of Royal Media Services. These exploits together with his reporting experience with the Voice of America, CNN and BBC have been rewarded with local and global recognition.