Four persons were killed in Sikkim, one each in West Bengal and Bihar and at least five were reported dead in Nepal. Tremors were felt in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, parts of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Delhi, neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh
Gangtok: A powerful earthquake with a 6.8 magnitude rocked north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim and other parts in the north-east on Sunday evening leaving at least six persons dead and over 50 injured besides causing extensive damage to several buildings, reports PTI.
Four persons were killed in Sikkim—two at Singtham, one at Dikchu in East Sikkim district and another at Mangan—as the government sought the army’s assistance in reaching help to the affected, state chief secretary Karma Gyatso told PTI here.
One person was killed in Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal and another in Nalanda district in Bihar.
The National Disaster Relief Force was on its way to Sikkim and would reach the state by tomorrow, Mr Gyatso said.
Many tall buildings developed cracks in Gangtok and Darjeeling and window panes shattered as people came out in large numbers in panic. The earthquake claimed one life at Singtham in East Sikkim district, while another died just outside Singtham.
The epicentre of the quake—the biggest in two decades—was located at Mangan and Sakyong areas, over 50 km from Gangtok on Sikkim-Nepal border.
Tremors were felt in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, parts of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Delhi.
Several buildings developed major cracks in the state as personnel of the Disaster Management Team were deployed, Mr Gyatso said.
Two buildings of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) collapsed in Pegong area though there was no immediate report of any casualty, a senior official said.
Three after shocks of 5.7, 5.3 and 4.6 magnitude on the Richter scale were felt in the region within 30 minutes of the first quake.
“Tremors were felt between 30 seconds to one minute in some parts of Sikkim, including Gangtok,” Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the ministry of earth sciences, said in Delhi.
Mr Gyatso described it as “a massive earthquake. We have alerted the armed forced and the paramilitary personnel.”
Prime minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and offered help in all possible ways, including availability of defence forces.
The prime minister directed Cabinet secretary to call an emergency meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority, PMO sources said.
Five IAF planes were pressed into action for relief operations.
Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force—five each from Delhi and Kolkata—are being sent to assist in the relief and rescue operations, RK Srivastava, joint secretary, Disaster Management, in the home ministry, said.
RS Basnet, principal secretary to Sikkim chief minister’s office said the army’s assistance has been sought.
A woman was seriously injured in Gangtok near a cinema hall in the market area when stones from a wall fell on her, he said.
Reports said a building housing a small hotel in Sintam in East Sikkim district collapsed and people were being evacuated. Another house collapsed in Dikchu town in the same district. A portion of the market at Dikchu also collapsed.
Several buildings in Gangtok developed major cracks and people were seen moving to the Paljor stadium and other open areas.
Power and water supply connections got snapped and continuous rains during the last three days worsened the situation.
Around 200 people have been brought to the ITBP relief camp in Gangtok.
Army columns in small teams were deployed in rescue mission across Sikkim. The columns comprised medical teams with first aid, engineer detachments and relief and rescue units, an army official said.
The tremor was felt in Delhi and Kolkata as well as Ranchi, Darjeeling. Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, Birbhum and Bankura districts in West Bengal.
“Darjeeling and Kalimpong are now in total darkness," West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, adding, “We have alerted all district magistrates throughout the state.”
A Patna report said the tremor was felt in various parts of Bihar, including Darbhanga.
Neighbouring Jharkhand also felt the shock, according to a Ranchi report.
In the north, besides the national capital, the tremors were felt in Jaipur and nearby areas of Rajasthan.
Panic gripped people in Lucknow and some other places in Uttar Pradesh where the quake was also felt.
The quake also jolted Nepal killing at least five people, three of them outside the British Embassy in capital Kathmandu.
Three people were killed when a high brick wall of the British Embassy at Lainchaur collapsed due to earthquake, police said.
A man and his daughter and another pedestrian died after the wall of the Embassy collapsed on them.
The Indian Embassy premises which is adjoining to the British Embassy compound did not suffer any damage, according to a mission spokesperson.
The earthquake also jolted Bangladesh, sparking panic among the people, though there was no immediate report of any casualty.
Thousands of people rushed to the streets from high-rise buildings in panic as they sought information about their family members following the tremor at around 6:45pm.
Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of realty research firm Liases Foras, expects realty prices to come down slowly and in instalments, as and when developers have no other way to get funds but to sell property at reduced rates
"I can see a 33% correction coming in residential property prices in Mumbai, because the market is going to enter a consumer circle," Pankaj Kapoor, managing director, Liases Foras, a real estate rating and research agency, has said. Mr Kapoor was speaking at a workshop on real estate prices, hosted by Moneylife Foundation at the Moneylife Knowledge Centre today.
Mr Kapoor explained the viability of buying a property in today's market, which has seen prices escalate to unaffordable levels. He offered prospective home buyers tips on how to tackle the situation, through an analysis of the real estate market to gauge the direction the prices will go in the next year.
He said that it was foolish to consider buying property in the far-flung suburbs, with no connectivity, because one must live near the workplace. "This idea of affordable housing is a myth, because the commercial centres are not shifting, and prices there are unaffordable. No wonder, we see more slums cropping up," Mr Kapoor said.
When asked about the areas in Mumbai which he considered a good bet to buy a home, Mr Kapoor listed Kurla, Vadala, Sewri and Gorai as attractive options. He said that once the metro came up, these areas would benefit and develop the most.
Mr Kapoor said that on the basis of current property offtake, Mumbai was in the worst position, while Pune was the best-placed. "Pune's stock can be cleared in 12 months. However, Mumbai will require 40 months," he said. He said that since many financers were shifting to Pune, more capital would be injected in that market and set off speculation. "After a year or so, may be Pune will also see irrational price hikes fuelled by speculation," he said.
He asked buyers not to bother too much about developers and to concentrate on the property itself. "Most big brand developers are in problems. A sensible investor and a sensible buyer would stay away from big names and look at the project and consider: Is it a liveable locality? Can they sell at that price? Will the delivery be on time?"
"The problem with most valuations is that they go by the prices next door. So when a developer hears that the adjoining property has been priced at Rs2 crore, he will also hike his own prices. However, he doesn't consider whether sales are actually happening at those prices," Mr Kapoor said. "Even professional valuations are faulty on these accounts. So, inventory piles up, prices rise and the market becomes more lopsided."
When asked why despite various predictions, the prices had not come down, Mr Kapoor said the correction would be slow and in instalments. He said that even when prices don't appreciate, this must be considered as a correction too.
"The developer reduces prices when there is no other way to get money apart from sales. Now, even when the borrowing rates are high, there is money available, either from private equity or other channels. As these flows gradually dry up, builders will be forced to bring their prices down to a level which suits the customer," he said.
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Twenty four of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions received normal rainfall this season, while nine sub-divisions got excess falls, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its weekly update for the season
New Delhi: After bountiful spells leading to 4% excess rains across the country, the south-west monsoon is expected to start withdrawing from the end of next week, reports PTI quoting the weather office.
The northwest region, which experienced heavy rains over the last two days, will witness a decrease in rainfall activity next week, it said.
Twenty four of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions received normal rainfall this season, while nine sub-divisions got excess falls, it said.
Only three sub-divisions covering the entire north-eastern region experienced deficit rains, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its weekly update for the season.
“Conditions may become favourable for withdrawal of southwest monsoon from some parts of northwest India towards end of the week,” the weather office said in its forecast for next week.
The decrease in rainfall activity could bring relief to farmers who are now looking forward to harvest the kharif crop.
Normal rains across food bowls of the country have raised hopes of a bumper crop with agriculture minister Sharad Pawar pegging the kharif output at 123.88 million tonnes against 120.20 million tonnes in the same period last year.
The weather office has forecast fairly widespread rain over east and adjoining central India, west coast and north-eastern states during next week.
In area-wise distribution, 91% area of the country received excess or normal rainfall. 466 (77%) out of 603 districts of the country have received normal to excess rainfall, the IMD said.