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Cracks reveal faultlines

A stone slab falls off from the inner wall of a temple due to the earthquake at Brahmeswar in Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar, May 22: Last night’s quake-triggered anxiety disappeared at daybreak, but the city woke up to witness cracks appearing on several structures.

Cracks induced by the earthquake have developed on a number of buildings in the city. Similar fissures have also appeared on several temples, including Brahmeswar Temple in Old Town.

Hospitals also had to handle the rush of patients who hurt themselves as they tried to run out of their houses and into an open area. More than 200 city residents were rushed to the Capital Hospital for primary treatment.

A moderate earthquake with its epicentre in the Bay of Bengal rocked the entire coastal area of the state and a few neighbouring states at around 9.52pm yesterday.

“As soon as I felt the tremors, I started running out of my house but my finger got caught between the doors,” said Bablu Sahu, who sustained finger injury.

Two persons sustained severe leg injuries as they jumped out of their houses.

Scared by the tremor, several trainee fire-fighters at the fire training institute in Baramunda rushed out of their barrack to an open space nearby. Two of them — Bijay Kumar Sahu and Mujmil Khan — sustained injuries after a windowpane fell on both of them.

The panic was such that hundreds spent a major part of the night on the roads apprehending further tremors.

The quake also left mobile and telephone networks jammed and earthquake-related messages flooded social media sites such as Facebook, twitter and mobile messaging application WhatsApp.

“We stay in the fourth floor of an apartment. As the earthquake struck, everything around started shaking and we ran out. We could not gather courage to go back to our room fearing subsequent tremors,” said Sonali Mishra, a resident of Chandrasekarpur area.

Officials in the regional meteorological centre in Bhubaneswar said that the intensity of the earthquake that hit the state yesterday was the highest in last four decades.

While yesterday’s earthquake measured six on the Richter scale, an earthquake of 5.4 magnitude had hit the state on April 8, 1982.

On July 1, 1985, the state had experienced an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale.

In the past, Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority had planned to take up certain steps to reduce vulnerability of earthquake in the state.

Accordingly, Urban Earthquake Vulnerability Reduction Programme has been started to address the vulnerabilities of urban areas in the state and to promote mitigation strategies.

The vulnerability reduction programme of the central government has been implemented in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Sambalpur towns.

Forty cities with populations exceeding half-million fall in seismic risk zones (III to V) around the country.

The programme aimed at creating awareness of earthquake vulnerability and possible preventive actions among people, development of quake preparedness plans at city and ward levels, networking knowledge on best practices and tools for effective earthquake risk management and capacity building of government functionaries and professionals along with development of a techno-legal framework.

The local civic bodies such as municipal corporations in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack and municipalities in Sambalpur were chosen as implementing authorities of this programme.

Around 415 masons in the city have been trained for three days on choosing proper building materials and giving importance to strong bases.

“Besides several engineers and engineering students mostly those belonging to civil engineering sector have been provided with such trainings. Officials of different government agencies also have been trained to expedite official procedures during such situations. Besides a large number of civil defence volunteers also have been provided with advanced search and rescue training,” said Kamal Mishra, general manager of Odisha State Disaster Mitigation Authority.