The Telegraph
Thursday , April 12 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shocks rob afternoon siesta

Panic-stricken Patnaites rushed out of homes and office buildings on Wednesday afternoon after a mild tremor shook the city for almost five seconds around 2.08pm. An aftershock measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale was felt around 2.58pm, but hardly anybody perceived it.

The first set of shocks — 8.5 on the Richter scale — did not go unnoticed, though. Absorbed in their assignments, most professionals did not feel the tremor initially. When they did, they ran out. So did several people at home. But the quake was over by then.

Yet, for almost half-an-hour, people loitered on roads — away from multi-storeyed commercial or residential buildings. Assured the tremor was over, people returned home or their workstations.

Another aftershock measuring 8.1 on Richter scale was felt at 4.13pm but the state disaster management department said there was no report of loss of life or property because of the earthquake and the aftershocks.

“We have not received any report of loss of life or damage to property from anywhere in the state,” said Vyasji, the principal secretary of the disaster management department.

But home or away, the first set of shakes shocked all.

“I just rushed out of office the moment I realised there was an earthquake. Now that things are normal, I will go back to the office,” said Shashank, an engineer working with a private firm located at the Bisco- maun building.

Bina Kumari, a resident of Ashiana Nagar, said: “I was sleeping in my bedroom. Around 2pm, I felt that my bed was shaking. First, I thought I was feeling dizzy. But when I heard people shouting in the apartment, I jumped out of my bed and ran out of the building using the stairs fearing collapse of the building. I saw several people were on the road then.”

Tremor fright among Patnaites should be treated with compassion because the city is in Seismic Zone IV, a high-risk zone. Utter chaos in most sky-scrappers during and after the earthquake on Wednesday punched hole in the authorities’ tall claim on spreading earthquake safety awareness among masses. Despite the use of elevators being a strict no-no during tremors, several people used them to come out of buildings in the state capital. Fortunately, no untoward incident occurred.

Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA) still claimed that mass awareness was the key to overcome the challenge of earthquake.

“We continuously pursue on educating masses on earthquake safety. We organised free earthquake safety clinics during Udyog Mela and Bihar Divas celebrations, which got a very good response,” said Madhubala, the personal secretary of BSDMA vice-chairman.

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