Seismo-Watch

Special Earthquake Report No: 99-008

Regional Location:

Preliminary Magnitude:

Moment Magnitude:

Greenwich Mean Date:
Greenwich Mean Time:
Latitude:
Longitude:
Focal Depth (km):
Analysis Quality (A-D):

Northern India

6.6 Ms (NEIC)

6.3 Mw (NEIC)

99/03/28
19:05:13
30.49N
79.29E
12 km
A

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An earthquake registering a preliminary magnitude of Ms 6.6 (NEIC), Mw 6.3 (NEIC) occurred at 19:05:13 UTC, March 28, along the India-Xizang border of central Asia. The focal point (area of first motion) was placed at 12 km below the surface and the NEIC fault plane solution suggested thrust motion along a east-west trending, moderate dipping fault plane. There is a good likelihood of surface fault ruptures. Several aftershocks have been detected, however, none have yet to measure in the M5 range.
 
The quake was centered about 185 miles northeast of New Delhi and 90 miles east of Dehra Dun in the Uttar Pradesh State in the Kumaon district, near the Himalayan villages of Chamoli and Rudraprayag (see map). The epicenter was about 30 miles inside Indian border along the foothills of the Himalaya, in a area called the Garhwal hills.
 
Preliminary reports indicate widespread damage has occurred in the epicenter region, killing at least 100 people and injuring hundreds. The quake struck just after midnight local time as people were sleeping. Most of the damage occurred in Chamoli and Rudraprayag, semi-urban areas of about 50,000 people, where numerous buildings collapsed, walls crumbled and windows were shattered. Power and telephone utilities were disrupted and numerous landslides and rock falls have occurred in mountains.
 
Preliminary estimates from helicopter flyovers suggest 80 to 90 percent of the buildings in Chamoli have been damaged or destroyed and considerable damage has occurred in the surrounding regions. Officials fear the death toll will rise much higher as rescue workers sift through the rubble.
 
President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee have dispatched army solders, rescue workers and medical personnel to the region but numerous landslides and road failures have hampered travel in the area. Many reports say several other very large landslides are poised to contribute to the damage.
 
The earthquake was felt in far-western Nepal and across many parts of north India. Residents in New Delhi were jerked awake by two strong tremors. Furniture swayed and windows rattled.
 
It was the largest earthquake to strike this portion of the Himalaya Mountains since October 19, 1991 when a M6.6 temblor hit this same region and caused sever damage, killing upwards of 2,000 people.
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Subtract 8 hours from Greenwich Mean Time to obtain PST or 5 hours for EDT
Location Quality: A (good), B (fair), C (poor), D (bad)
Magnitude: Ml (local or Richter magnitude), Lg (mblg), Md (duration), Mb (body wave), Ms (surface wave), Mw (moment)

Standard Sources Include:
U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center, Golden, CO (NEIC)
Harvard Geophysical Observatory, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (HRV)
U.S. Geological Survey, Northern California Seismic Network (NCSN)
University of California, Berkeley, Seismological Laboratory (UCBSL)
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California (Caltech)
various wire reports and/or personal communications

All data are preliminary and subject to change.
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