Duba: Iran’s Russian-built nuclear power plant at Bushehr was not affected by yesterday’s powerful earthquake, which caused casualties in Iran and Pakistan, and had its impact felt in several parts of India and across the Gulf states.
The Bushehr plant continues its operations as normal, a spokesman for the Russian state nuclear corporation said. The nuclear power plant on the Gulf is located some 950km west of Khash, a town near the epicentre of what Iran said was a 7.8 magnitude quake.
The quake was described by the Iranian media as the strongest in more than 50 years. It also was the second deadly quake to hit Iran in less than a week after a magnitude 6.1 temblor struck near Bushehr which killed 37 people and raised calls for greater international safety inspectors at Iran’s lone nuclear reactor nearby.
In Manama, thousands of people were evacuated from high-rise buildings. The mild tremors caused panic among many people, but no injuries or damages were reported.
In Muscat, residents rushed out on the streets as the tremors sent a wave of panic and phone lines were jammed.
Reports from Pakistan said houses were damaged in Mashkail in Washuk district, where more than 30 people were killed and 80 wounded were taken to a rural health centre in the area, around three kilometres from the Iranian border.
There were cracks in government buildings in the area and PTV said President Asif Ali Zardari had expressed grief over the losses in Iran and Pakistan.
The quake was felt across large parts of Pakistan including Islamabad, where buildings shook, and the largest city Karachi where tremors prompted many to flee buildings in terror. There were no reports of significant damage to infrastructure.
Pakistani news channels showed buildings shaking in the southern city of Karachi, where people in panic came out from offices and homes.
In India, the strong tremors lasted several seconds, leading to panic in many places. People rushed out of their offices and homes in the National Capital Region.
“I ignored the mild jolt first but after continuous jolts I realised that it is a quake,” said Malini Saxena from east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar locality.
Similar reports came in from Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
People in the Kashmir Valley — where a devastating quake on October 8, 2005, had killed over 40,000 people on both sides of the Line of Control that divides Kashmir into Indian and Pakistan administered parts — echoed the panic.
“I ran out of my kitchen when the earthquake occurred. I found some of our neighbours had also run out of their homes,” said Tahira, 35, a homemaker in Srinagar.
In eastern India, tremors were felt in the morning itself. In Odisha, a low intensity earthquake occurred at 8.36 am and was felt for a few seconds in Astaranga area of Puri district, 70 km from Bhubaneswar, an official of the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre said.
Two moderate quakes had hit the northeast earlier in the morning. The first tremor was felt at 6.53 am in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.